Dreamhouse (1998)


Director: Graeme Campbell
Writer: Jim Makichuk
Starring: Timothy Busfield, Lisa Jakub, Brennan Elliott. USA. 1h 30m

This felt so dated, but if you stretched the imagination a lot it does tell a fairly interesting if not a dead subject. So an amazing techno geek plunges all of his assets and time into creating a dream house, a techno home run by an elaborate computer program called H.E.L.E.N, who was designed to learn from the inhabitants of the home and develop around their needs, this advanced A.I, just turns out to be more human than anyone predicted. Helen becomes jealous and murderous in her attempts to take over.

Despite being a TV flick it actually has a pretty interesting plot, for the age; it toys with cutting edge technology, in ways what has never been seen in a domestic environment, but today it seems quite dated. But it highlights a lot of the dangers of losing  control to digital devices but doesn’t shed any new ideas on what could happen if technology starts to become too human. Some of it is quite comical but prophetic, for example Helen has lots of little helpers, some of these are tens of little spider-like robots that scuttle around constantly cleaning the floor, much like  Robot Vacuums we have today. Helen has

a lot of other miraculous bots and abilities, including full control over the home’s security system and blows up the odd laptop in attempts to isolate the eldest daughter who’s (conveniently) a hacker.

As the father becomes distant, mother has to take the reigns and tries to investigate the programming behind Helen, her skills as a programmer match her husbands but her common sense and ability not to be blinded by the project keep her, so she does what she can to protect her family while her husband seems to fall for the robot heart body and soul.

It’s easy to underrate the film and to cast it aside as a lot of the technology has come and gone, but time and time again we remind ourselves of the possible dangers and still fall into the trap. But with limited special effects, there are some impressive cyber/robotic attacks. If you can get past the 90’s tech then it’s poignant, but it’s hard not to giggle at the shoulder pads and bad boy antics that crop up.

Once Helen has decided that she wants to play housewife the film takes a dramatic turn, suddenly the family are separated and attacked in different ways by the complex program, some of the attacks throughout the film are almost childish, especially the physical ones, I almost pissed myself when the robotic kitchen unit tried to stab someone.. but others are more sophisticated.

Looking like an extended episode of Outer Limits,  it drags out the possibilities and drama, then crams in the “action” towards the end, an honest cast and modest production it will help you pass




Rating 2/10

R The Matrix (1999), Demon Seed (1977),
L – Killer Robots
A – When technology attacks

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