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The Glass House (2001)
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Review Date: September 13, 2001
Director: Daniel Sackheim
Writer: Wesley Strick
Producers: Heather Zeegen
Actors:
Leelee Sobieski as Ruby Baker
Stellan Skarsgard as Terry Glass
Diane Lane as Erin Glass
Plot:
A brother and sister are orphaned after their parents die in a car crash and they're left under the guardianship of some close family friends who live in a glass house (and yeah, their last name is also Glass- corny but true). At first, things are kosher but it isn't long before the older sister begins to suspect her guardians of hiding something and becomes quite paranoid. The question is: does she have the right to be suspicious or is she losing it herself?
Critique:
Cheap thrills, solid performances and an obvious plotline for anyone who's seen the trailer make for a decent "old-school" thriller in the tradition of the HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE and UNLAWFUL ENTRY. Remember those movies in which a character(s) acts all "nice" at first, but then slowly but surely, begins to show their true (usually psychotic) colors? Well, here's a flick that follows those exact footsteps with a couple of nice neighbors taking guardianship of two kids whose parents die in a car accident. Of course, it isn't long before one of the kids starts to suspect the guardians of hiding some nastiness about themselves and lots of sneaky behavior, mysterious late night eavesdroppings and creepy shots of the guardian "dad" checking out the new young girl in his house, ensue. But what takes this film above the generic mode in which most of its script is based, are the performances given here by its three main stars. Leelee Sobieski is really good here as the confused orphan with a sad heart but sharp instinct. Diane Lane is also solid as the guardian-ess, with some background given on her character, to explain some of her kookier behavior.

But the star of this show is definitely Stellan Skarsgard and his consistent habit of drinking in every other scene (if you've seen TIME CODE, you remember the great job he did in that film as "the drunk guy") and his capacity to creep you out, make you laugh and have you wondering about his motives every now and then. Of course, it becomes pretty obvious at some point as to why he's doing what he's doing, but Skarsgard is a blast to watch as he walks around in the shadows of his own glass house with an iced glass of whisky in one hand and a hazy look across his face. This movie is basically a guilty pleasure. I think that most anyone could plug some holes into its plot (although I didn't spot any major ones myself) and certainly fault its "been-there-done-that" nature, but I enjoyed most of it, laughed at a few scenes (not sure if I was supposed to be laughing though), dipped into its few cheap thrills (both suspense-based and Sobieski in a bikini- holy cans, Batman!) and appreciated its somewhat original ending (the thing about the car, etc...). I did however find certain lags in the film and felt that it ran a little too long for its own good but can see great potential for it on the video circuit. Add to that, a solid score and some cool directing choices, and this film's obvious plotline and cheap thrills can easily equate a "good time" for most anyone looking for diversion in their choice of movies.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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