The Glass House (2001)
Director: Daniel Sakheim
After the death of their parents, Ruby (Sobieski) and Rhett (Morgan) move in with a couple (Skarsgard and Lane) that were long time friends of the family. But before you can say “morphine”, the kind guardians reveal their true colors and the shite hits the fan.
Remember those early 90s thrillers like “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle”, “Fatal Attraction”, “Bad Influence “or "Single White Female"? Well, "The Glass House" is a perfect match for that list. There’s nothing too original about this movie. Girl gets put in a situation, good people wind up being bad, girl tries to escape, bad people try to stop her and it all ends in a sea of “ping pow ping”. We get our requisite car chase sequences, our tense moments, our is he/she good or is he/she bad characters and a villain that graduated from the Michael Myers school (you can’t keep the dude down!)
This “cookie cutter” thriller does have some things going for it though. First off all, the actors are all on the money. Sobieski is very credible and continues her mini Jodie Foster impersonation. Lane nails her character’s secret flaw (this is me being vague) and Skarsgard steals the show with his unpredictable menacing performance. The man is scary when he’s holding a drink, that’s fer sure. The film has a couple of nail biting scenes (all about getting the keys) and I also really dug the location in which the flick took place. That “glass house” is a neat setting and the director makes very good use of it.
Now for the bad stuff. First off, I knew where the film was going from frame one. Since it takes about an hour to build everything up, I felt a bit restless waiting for the movie to catch up with me. The film also has a knack of half-assing its subplots. The perfect example would be: why take all that time early on to establish Ruby’s friends if you’re not going to do anything with them in the long run? (no, that throwaway “conclusion” scene didn’t work on me)
Four other qualms I had with the film were: 1) It plays it too safe; it tosses in a very nasty sexual attraction but doesn’t go far enough with it. I would have liked more than just a hint. 2) It has a lamo mobster subplot that I couldn’t warm up to; I like my psycho motives to be a bit simpler. 3) It has characters do dumb things (how about telling them the brakes are shot). 4) It has trivial dream sequences that are only there to spice things up. Felt kind of cheap and obvious.
Now don’t get me wrong, "The Glass House" is not as bad as it may sound. It is somewhat entertaining, is full of atmosphere and has a great baddie. But for the love of “Mickey Rourke”, bring in a script doctor next time! Twenty minutes could’ve easily been shaved off this flick with a good re-write. And how about taking chances with the formula? You know! Going further with it? Let's break the glass…
Not much of that stuff but we do see some red. We get a stabbing and a mangled up Skarsgard.
Leelee Sobieski (Ruby) hits all the right emotional notes and solidifies her place as one of the more talented young actresses today. This is quite a compliment coming from me since I’m not her biggest fan. Stellan Skarsgard (Terry) had me riveted to the screen every time he showed up. He mixes charm, kindness and brutality perfectly. He plays a great drunk too. Diane Lane (Erin) had me convinced. She‘s not made to look pretty here and manages to add depth to what could have been a one-dimensional character. Trevor Morgan (Rhett) played that annoying kid in "Jurassic Park 3". The good news…he didn’t annoy me here. Nice work laddie.
T & A
Is it me or did Sobieski look fantastic in that bikini? Wow, I was taken aback!
Daniel Sakheim goes all out on this one. We get lots of bluish lighting, lots of shadows (I loved the pool water reflecting its shadow on actor’s faces), we get some groovy shots, some slow motion and some visual play with the theme of glass. The man also manages to build tension and handled his actors very well. Impressive.
A decent score that supports its scenes well.
Yes, the film is not original and yes, it's not too intelligent either. But it does have solid performances, a good setting, slick directing and some suspense. For me, Skarsgard is definitely the more memorable ingredient in this flick. Looking back (and I saw the film an hour ago) he’s pretty much all that sticks out. I say wait for video, I could see it going down better on the small screen.
Bruce Dern shows up for a small part and so does Rita (Tom Hanks' wife) Wilson.
Screenwriter Wesley Strick who also wrote “Return To Paradise”, “The Saint” and “Final Analysis”.
The credits say that Kip Pardue was in this movie…WHERE? Did he play a plant or something? Didn’t see him.