Apart from dry rot, subsidence and a north-facing garden, the least you’d expect estate agents to warn prospective buyers of would be the murder of a mother and her two children in their would-be dream home.
However, the realtors in Fairfield County, Connecticut pass up on these off-puttingly gory details and unsuspecting urban couple Will Atenton (Craig) and his wife Libby (Weisz) blithely close the deal.
He’s a New York publisher who’s quit his high-powered job to write a novel while she’s mother of their two cutesy kids and chief painter and decorator of the flaking clapboard bolthole.
It’s all glowing bonhomie and loving looks until the kids spot a strange man staring through the window, Will hears noises in the night, and a gang of local punks hold some sort of black mass in the basement.
It turns out that – something that wasn’t mentioned in the particulars – the house was the scene of a brutal murder by an unhinged father who blasted away his wife and kids with a handgun.
The gestation of this psychological thriller has almost been as horrific as the plot – My Left Foot director Sheridan clashed constantly with the producers, a disenchanted Craig and Weisz refused to promote it and the dim-witted promotions team cut a trailer that gives away a key twist.
And yet it’s certainly not the worst example of the genre, largely thanks to the solid performance of the two leads plus Naomi Watts as a single mom neighbour who knows more than she’s actually letting on.
The premise may err on the daft side but it’s played with conviction and an atmosphere of bleak dread is carefully evoked if not maintained until the final credits.
Not an uninhabitable wreck, then.