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Film / Dream House

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A movie about a man (Daniel Craig) who moved to a small town with his family. Strange things happen, and he learns that his house was the site of a gruesome triple murder.

Provides examples of:

  • Book Ends: The film starts with Will leaving New York City (actually his delusion). It ends with him in New York City, where he passes a bookstore advertising copies of his novel Dream House.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The opening scene shows Will quitting his job at GPH publishing. It is later revealed that he had been a patient at Greenhaven Psychiatric Hospital for five years, and his "co-workers" were fellow patients.
    • Jack Patterson looks at an e-mail concerning the custody dispute with his ex-wife Ann over their daughter Chloe. This was a motive for the triple murder, as he had sent a hit man to kill Ann to get the insurance benefits and sole custody of Chloe.
    • Also, Will's co-workers at GPH actually, his fellow psychiatric patients at the hospital, mention the novel he was working on. In the ending, he had published a novel called Dream House under his real name, Peter Ward.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Will had to solve the mystery of Peter Ward to do this. He becomes the publisher he had imagined himself to be, albeit under his real name of Peter Ward.
  • Foreshadowing: Several examples
    • The scene where Will arrives at his home reveals that his home was at the apex of a loop street intersecting the same road at both ends. This explains why Boyce went to his house instead of the Patterson house; the same directional turn is used to go on that street in opposite directions, and Boyce was not familiar with the neighborhood.
    • In the scene where Will leaves the GPH building, we see a traffic signal assembly. Even though GPH was located in New York City, the traffic signal assembly is not the type used there. This is a clue that Will was under a delusion.
    • If you watch closely in the scene where Will demands the cops to chase after what is presumably Peter Ward driving off, Libby watches from the porch with the lights noticeably on in the house. However, in almost every other shot, the house is completely dark and Libby is nowhere to be found, implying the foreshadowing of their deaths.
  • Guns Akimbo: Boyce used two guns when he killed Libby and her daughters.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Jack Patterson tries to kill Will and Ann in a house fire. It does not end well for him.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It is unclear whether Libby, Trish and Dee Dee are Peter's hallucinations, or his real wife and children living in the afterlife. In fact, the film provides evidence for both versions, and it's a major part of the plot. However, the end gives us a pretty solid Blink-And-You'll-Miss-It that gives it away: Libby is able to brush past the chimes on her way up the stairs and divert attention away from Peter. It's the only scene where she interacts with a physical object in front of anyone but him or their children.
  • Mind Screw
  • Mistaken Identity: The reason for the triple murder. The hitman Boyce mistook Libby Ward for Ann Patterson.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The movie was promoted as a horror film. It stops being scary after Will Attenton learns he is Peter Ward, as the focus shifts, from that scene until near the end, on his grief over the deaths of his wife and daughters .
  • Not Quite Dead: Boyce, after being shot by Jack Patterson. He douses some stairs with a flammable liquid as Jack was trying to escape up them, resulting in the Hoist by His Own Petard example.
  • Villain Ball: Jack Patterson holds this when he ties up Ann instead of shooting her .
    • And he held the ball earlier when he shoots Boyce without making sure that he was dead . It was not as if Boyce would do anything to retaliate like, maybe douse Jack's escape route with a flammable liquid.