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MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for sci-fi violence/gore and language

Reviewed by: Dave Rettig

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
95 min.
Year of Release:

Starring: Peter O'Toole, Joanna Going, Rose McGowan, Ben Affleck, Liev Schreiber, Clifton Powell, Nicky Katt, Edmund Wyson Director: Joe Chappelle / Released by: Miramax Films

Welcome to Snowfield, population 4000 during tourist season, 400 off-season, and 5 during the beginning of “Phantoms”. Dean Koontz’s novel adapted to film, centers in the town of Snowfield, where most of the population has vanished or died, with the exception of Jenny (Joanna Going), Lisa (Rose McGowan), Bryce Hammond (Ben Affleck), Deputy Stu Wargle (Liev Schreiber) and Deputy Steve Shanning (Nicky Katt). Trapped in Snowfield, the band of five must uncover what has happened to the rest of the town or they may face the same fate.

“Phantoms” is a suspenseful, relatively well done adaptation of the Koontz' novel. The film maintains a moderate level of suspense throughout. However, as with most books gone to Hollywood, most of the character and plot development must be cut, so that the audience ends up with a film and not a miniseries. “Phantoms” feels rushed and so the satisfaction of a well played out story evades the viewer.

“Phantoms” contains gore, violence and profanity; however, no more than one should expect if viewing an R rated movie. One element that is disturbing though is the religious overtones of the plot. The “ancient enemy” is some previous undiscovered intelligent creature that believes that it is Satan. It draws anthropologist/tabloid journalist Timothy Flyte (Peter O'Toole) to Snowfield to write a new “gospel”, which proclaims immortality by becoming absorbed into its being. A positive side to this is that “Phantoms” opens the door to discussions of the nature of Hell, eternal life, and salvation through Jesus Christ. At one point, Lisa (Rose McGowen) says “I don’t want to go to hell.” You don’t have to be Billy Graham to lead to a gospel discussion from that.

Paul says to focus on things which are true, pure, lovely, and admirable (Ph 4:8). “Phantoms” is none of these, and appropriately gets a low Moral Rating; however, if you are going to see it regardless, take a non-Christian friend and talk to him/her about Jesus Christ.

Viewer Comments
As far as Dave’s “pure and admirable” comment, I think it is worth mentioning that Koontz felt this is the first good adaption of one of his novels BECAUSE it wasn’t horror. He feels like most directors skip over the suspense/thriller/drama in his books and go straight for the gooey dead bodies. However, it is gory and might deserve a lower Christian rating than most.
Zack, age 16