Share & Connect
In 2009, production partners Daniel Bobker and Ehren Kruger brought Morgan Creek CEO James G. Robinson and vice president David Robinson the script for Dream House.
Bobker and Kruger, who had previously collaborated on the supernatural thriller The Skeleton Key and the action-adventure The Brothers Grimm, were intrigued by the themes that screenwriter David Loucka explored in his psychological thriller and were convinced that Morgan Creek was the right production partner to develop and finance the project.
Loucka wove the fascinating tale of Will Atenton, an accomplished publisher who leaves a hectic job in New York City to spend time with his wife and two young girls in their New England home. Just as he settles in to begin his new career as a writer, Will’s family is plagued by a series of disturbing occurrences in their house. Now, he is forced to confront the fact that nothing is as it seems.
James G. Robinson explains his decision to develop and produce the material: “With so many thrillers, it becomes painfully obvious early on what the twist is, and the director spends the majority of the time trying to cover his or her tracks. What set Dream House apart is that it explores the mystery as it happens from one person’s perspective.
As Will tries to figure out who killed the family—or if anyone actually did— there is self-doubt and self-accusation. We loved that you can project your own thoughts onto the material. As it unfolds, the audience will question their own assumptions about what is happening.”
To bring life to the multilayered story, the producers recruited Oscar-nominated director Jim Sheridan. The Irish filmmaker, known for an impressive body of work that spans collaborations with Daniel Day-Lewis — My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father and The Boxer — to the deeply personal In America and war drama Brothers, never expected that his next film would be a psychological thriller.
Still, he was drawn to the taut material and was impressed by the author’s ability to deftly traverse genres and to keep the reader guessing. Sheridan acknowledges that he relished the opportunity of helming Dream House. He says: “I read the script, and I quite liked the compelling idea of a guy living in two realities at the same time.”
The director was keen to shepherd this “psychological thriller where you don’t know where you are at any point. You don’t know what’s real or who did the murder. In fact, you don’t know if there was a murder at all.”
The filmmaker appreciated that Loucka’s story allowed the reader to intimately enter Will’s mind and to explore our deepest fears of losing our family. He notes, “I think a lot of the time people react to tragedy by inventing fantasy worlds. I suppose, at its basis, drama is a kind of belief system invented by human beings to counter the overwhelming reality of death.”
When considering what would become his approach to the material, Sheridan explains: “You’re trying to capture emotions. You’re trying to capture the invisible: a world that you don’t quite see, but rather feel. I wasn’t that interested in just doing a visual change. I wanted to get an emotional change that’s at the core of Will — a change that comes from the inside out, rather than the outside in.”
A haunting Plot
Successful publisher Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) quit a high-power job in Manhattan to relocate his wife, Libby (Rachel Weisz), and two girls to a quaint New England town. But as they settle into their new life, they discover their perfect home was the murder scene of a mother and her children.
And the entire city believes it was at the hands of the husband who survived. When Will investigates, he’s not sure if he’s starting to see ghosts or if the tragic story is just hitting too close to home. His only clues come from Ann Patterson (Naomi Watts), a mysterious neighbor who knew those who were lost.
And as Will and Ann piece together the haunting puzzle, they must find out who murdered the family in Will’s dream house before he returns to kill again.
Image Courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/dreamhouse