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Film critic Dominic Corry celebrates, clarifies and justifies his love for all things film.

Dominic Corry: Did Dream House deserve to go straight to DVD?

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Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig star in Dream House. Photo / Supplied
Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig star in Dream House. Photo / Supplied

Every year, dozens of films released in theatres overseas go straight to DVD in this country.

It's not difficult to discern why - New Zealand is a small market and it represents a significant gamble to fork out for a cinema release.

When a major film fails to do well overseas, distributors naturally get skittish and consign its New Zealand release to DVD store shelves.

Dream House, newly released on DVD, is one such film. At first glance, it seems like the kind of big budget studio-backed film that demands a global cinematic release: Three marquee stars in the form of Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts, a high concept thriller plot, and a director who's been nominated for multiple Academy Awards - Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In The Name of the Father).

But the buzz was bad from the moment the trailer came out and appeared to spoil the main twist of the film.

The film got a wide release in America, but failed to light up the box office. It also got pretty bad reviews - it's currently trending at 35 on Metacritic. Ergo, straight to DVD.

In my capacities as both a film reviewer and a film fan, I place a lot of importance on seeing movies in a theatre, so I rarely watch a new film for the first time on DVD.

As a result of this, the new release section of the DVD store tends to be a far less exciting place to me these days.

So as a kind of side effect of my tendency to see everything in a cinema, I relish the chance to see a new, slick studio-backed film - especially a thriller or a horror - for the first time on DVD. This was the case with Dream House.

Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz play book editor and homemaker excited about the huge suburban New York house they recently move in to. But after they discover their home was the previously scene of an awful murder-suicide, weird things start to happen.

Dream House is a well-made film. It looks great and the actors are all committed - Kiwi Martin Czoskas (Shortland St, The Bourne Supremacy) turns up in a small but impactful role. It's often enjoyably unsettling.

But oh boy is the script a mess. There are plot holes big enough to fly a spaceship through, and the film pretty much abandons any attempt at suspending disbelief after the first 30 minutes.

It should be noted however, that the aforementioned twist revealed in the trailer occurs about halfway through the movie and there's plenty of story afterwards.

Weisz is a pleasure to behold as always, and although Craig is a fine actor, he's just too darn convincing in his surliness to get into this. Craig and Harrison Ford must be the two grumpiest actors working today, and it comes through in their performances. I bet Cowboys & Aliens was a fun set to be on.

Sheridan creates some nicely eerie set-pieces and maintained my interest throughout, even when the plot went whackadoodle. But In The Name of the Father this isn't.

So as much as I sort of enjoyed watching it, Dream House definitely DID deserve to go straight to DVD. If I'd seen it on the big screen, I would've no doubt felt let down by the film. With lessened expectations thanks to the much less dramatic medium of DVD, it almost works.

I've traditionally been against any cinematically released film going straight to DVD in New Zealand, but I'm starting to reassess this overly purist view.

There are many exceptions of course, but the unforgiving gauntlet of an American cinema release can help filter out a lot of the dreck that doesn't deserve a cinema release in our fair country.

It gets worrisome though, when smaller films have their fates sealed early on by doing badly in America.

Watch the trailer for Dream House:

* Do you get frustrated when big studio films go straight to DVD in this country? Do you place a lot of importance on seeing movies on the big screen? Seen Dream House? Thoughts? Comment below!

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