Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
|Featuring||Leelee Sobieski, Diane Lane, Stellan Skarsgård, Trevor Morgan, Bruce Dern|
|Producer||Neal H Moritz|
There is nothing like a good thriller or movie of high-wire suspense. It will help you find the bottom of the popcorn bag every time. I enjoy some of the classic Hitchcock thrillers—like “Vertigo,” “Notorious”, or “North by Northwest.” Even though I now know the endings, I enjoy the incredible feeling of uneasiness. I even delight in films with suspense when you already know the ending (like “Apollo 13” and “The Dish”).
“The Glass House” is nothing like those movies at all. TV veteran Daniel Sackheim (“ER,” “The X Files”, and “Law and Order”) directs a basic made-for-TV style drama. The only difference is that you get to watch it on the big screen at the theater (big deal!). This flick is so transparent (yes, pun intended) that you could stop the action every ten minutes and even the weakest link could tell you what was going to happen next. It is not that predictability is not always bad, but these films are about as much fun as playing hide and seek in an empty room. In fairness though, I know that most of the scenes intended to create some anxiety (you know… maybe turn your knuckles a little bit white) were spoiled by the move trailer (thanks a lot guys).
“The Glass House” opens with your stereotypical suburban Hollywood family scenes. Two apparently successful parents engaged in having empty and meaningless dialog with their two children. Their sixteen year old daughter, Ruby (Leelee Sobieski), is always out with her friends. The director lets us watch her act bored through a slasher movie (“Prom Nightmare”—now that’s an original title!). We are supposed to get the idea that this is one tough heroine. These scenes glamorize rebellion and teenage smoking (Is the tobacco industry paying for all this free advertisement lately?).
The parents, Dave (Michael O'Keefe) and Grace (Rita Wilson) Baker are out celebrating their 10th anniversary. We watch them laugh and drink a lot of alcohol (Oh no! they’re going to get drunk and wreck). Ruby comes home, after sneaking out again, and finds the police at her home (thinking she’s really in trouble this time). The officers instead give her and her younger brother Rhett (Trevor Morgan) the tragic news of death. Uncle Jack (Chris North), who they haven’t seen for years, shows up and gives the “If you ever need anything… just call me” speech.
The orphaned children soon find out that their former neighbors, Terry (Stellan Skarsgård) and Erin (Diane Lane) Glass, are now their new guardians. The Glass’s sweep the kids off their feet with a limo ride to their Malibu Glass House (complete with N64 and Playstation). The suspense builds right away when we learn that this brother and sister must share the same room (a teenager’s worst nightmare). We painfully watch Mr. Glass lust after Ruby (skimpy bikini and voyeurism included). We observe Mrs. Glass try to hide a drug habit. We listen in on Mr. Glass’s financial problems (without even knowing why he is in debt). We find out that the kids are worth $4 Mil. (Not bad). Not even the kindly lawyer (Bruce Dern) and a social worker can help them out of this predictable predicament. Now… can you guess where all of this is going?
I must tell you that Ms. Sobieski does turn in an outstanding performance. Trevor Morgan (“The Patriot” and “Jurassic Park III”) has his talents wasted in this film as the annoying younger brother. Wesley Strick (“The Saint”) writes another bomb (now that has to be paneful). I did like the cinematography of Alar Kivilo (“Frequency”). He certainly earned his paycheck in making creepy visuals. The film overall is a real yawner (caffeine free). However, here are some notes for the parents in the audience. First, observe the PG-13 rating. The film contains some vigilante violence, blood, and gore. Secondly, the film does not contain sex, but it has its share of sexual content (revealing and tight fitting clothes included). The language is mild, but that is not always a good reason to endorse a movie. My recommendation for families is to plan a destination unknown and treat your kids to a little homemade suspense or for the adults go rent your favorite Hitchcock film (not that I endorse them all, but I have listed my favorites).
Yes, I already know that some will send in comments that they liked this movie. I guess thrillers with a much better plot spoil me. If you go—that’s OK—just remember, Windex is not included.