Skeletons in the Closet (2000)
Director: Wayne Powers
A widowed father (Williams) suspects that his teenage son (Jackson) is a serial killer. Is he on the ball or is it him who has committed a crime in the past? Put on your thinking caps and hang on!
Written by Wayne and Donna Powers (the screenwriters of Deep Blue Sea and Valentine), this little film confirms the old saying that sometimes "less is more". To be honest, I’ve always been afraid of features shot on anything else but film, but the HD Video format used here actually reeled me deeper into the world of the movie. The invisible barrier (the wall that separates real life and the world of the movie) that film projects is absent here. I felt like I was part of the movie…a silent witness if you prefer.
This flick had me going back and forth the whole time. Is the son the killer? Is the dad paranoid? Is he a killer, too? It kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn’t dare bite into a "Dorito" for fear of missing a precious piece of dialogue. The film takes a different path than the norm. None of the murders are shown and the violence is mostly non-physical...psychological. I felt more tension and thrills watching "Jackson" break down Hamilton with words than if he would have slapped her. I felt more impact watching Williams being emotionally torn to shreds than if he would have been torn to pieces. Now that’s power (no pun intended).
The actors really make it happen. They work beautifully off one another. Killer or not, Jonathan Jackson portrays a spine tingling character. With his empty room, the special gifts he sends to his dad and his manipulative ways, he gave me the creeps! Treat Williams proves once again that he is the man. God I’d love to have a beer with this guy! Linda Hamilton is a side character but she shines when she’s there as well. But this is truly Jackson and Williams’ show, and every time they share a scene together, the intensity of the film goes up 10 notches.
The film is at its strongest when it stays away from physical action. The car chase was ok, nothing more and the scene where Williams is hanging for his life off the side of a staircase is cut short (I really would have liked to see that scene go further). I also would have liked Linda Hamilton's character to be used more. But on the flip side, more of her would have taken the focus away from Williams and Jackson (their relationship is the core of the film). I guess I’m talking from a fan’s point of view; I love the gal and still think she doesn’t do enough movies.
What the film lacks in physical action more than makes up for it in mental warfare. The dialogue is genuine, the story is solid and the themes brought up: incest, murder, love and mystery are all handled with class and restraint. Underneath all of the dark shenanigans we also get a poignant dramatic look at a father-son relationship. I was convinced that Williams and Jackson were family. And what else do you want from a flick? I can’t remember the last time I felt this involved while watching a film. Let's open up that closet.
This movie isn't about that but we do get some rotting corpses.
Personally, I’m a big Treat Williams (Will) fan. He’s probably the most underrated Hollywood actor in the book and I’m always happy to see him on screen. Williams doesn’t disappoint here. He gives a focused, engaging performance that hooked me in from frame one. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. The same can be said about Jonathan Jackson (Seth) who not only plays off Williams perfectly but also has a knack for crying without blinking…NOW THAT’S TALENT! He’s also one creepy little bastard! Linda Hamilton (Tina) also comes through. Her scenes with Williams are on (chemistry wise) but it’s her scenes with Jackson that gave me the most chills. Schuyler Fisk (Robin) shows up long enough to look good, sing a song and cry. She does it all very well. More of her would have been nice too.
T & A
"The Little Mermaid" beats this one in term of nudity…nuff said!
Powers knows well enough to not let the directing distract us away from the heart of the film. He could have gone haywire with the camera but instead he underplays it to serve the actors and the story. We still get some nice traveling shots, sweeping aerial shots (great cinematography), some slow motion and lots of mood. I felt like a "Peeping Tom" watching this flick and that’s probably the best compliment I could give the film.
A haunting score. Schuyler Fisk picks up a guitar and sings us a beautiful tune. Jonathan and Richard Jackson offer us a few songs. My fav is the one that plays during the end credits: "Father".
I always say that it begins with the script and here we have a solid one. Then it’s the acting. They've got that here as well and then some. And then it’s the directing. Bingo! Skeletons In The Closet made my night and satisfied my genre film craving in a different way. It made me think and it made me feel. I’ll go as far as saying that this is one of the best movies I have seen this year. Hope you guys get to see it too.
This $1.5 million production was shot in 19 days in Wayne Powers’ old hometown in New Hampshire.
"Artisan Entertainment" owns the film and they still don’t know how they’re going to release it. I hope they don’t pull a "Ricky 6" (another great un-released film) on this one.
It was shot on HD Video and is the first studio financed (by Artisan) film to be shot in that format.
Jonathan Jackson and Treat Williams acted together before: they both played in "The Deep End Of The Ocean" alongside Michelle Pfeiffer.