Dream House

Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz star in "Dream House."

Universal Picture

This is the kind of thing that happens when there is a squabble about who really controls a movie.

Director Jim Sheridan ("My Left Foot" and "In America") continuously bickered with the head of the studio over how scenes in this thriller should be shot, and scenes were redone after test audiences reacted negatively to them. Ultimately, the film company took the movie out of this capable director's hands and recut it without his approval.

The result? There's a good idea at the core of "Dream House," but the finale is confusing and will leave viewers scratching their heads, asking, "What just happened?" I listened to several people trying to decipher the movie while they left the building - not a good indication that it's well-told tale.

Now even stars Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig won't promote the end result.

Craig stars as Will Atenton, who, at the beginning of the story, is leaving his publishing job in the city to spend more time with his wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and his daughters in their new home in the country.

Libby and the girls are delighted when Will arrives home for good. Libby continues to paint and decorate the home, and Will continues to work on a novel he has begun.

Soon, strange things begin to happen. In his own basement, Will discovers a group of teenagers who seem to be carrying out some sort of ritual. And as Will begins to investigate the history of his home, he discovers that it was the scene of a mass murder where a man named Peter Ward lost his wife and children in a ghastly homicide.

The family spots a figure lurking behind a tree. Someone anonymously leaves a flowering plant on their porch. The youngest daughter begins to fret about going back to her real home. And a figure behind the wheel of a car seems to determined to run over Will, who suspects his neighbor Ann (Naomi Watts) knows a lot more than she's willing to share with him.

This is really not a horror movie, although it's made out to be one. (Small wonder that this show was released just a few weeks before Halloween. All the better to draw in horror fans.)

I wish the studio had left the Oscar-nominated Sheridan to his own devices. Unfortunately, we're left with an average thriller, first half of which (and the TV ads, for that matter) gives away entirely too much of its meager plot.