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Skeletons In The Closet

review by Anthony D.


Running Time: 109 minutes

Starring Treat Williams, Linda Hamilton, Jonathan Jackson

Written by Wayne Powers and Donna Powers

Directed by Wayne Powers

Retail Price: $24.98

Studio: Artisan

Features: Audio Commentary, Theatrical Trailer, Cast and Crew Information, Production Notes

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0, English Closed Captions, Spanish Subtitles,Scenes Access

"Could my son possibly be a serial killer?" "Could my father have murdered my mother?" These are the questions raised by 2000's "Skeletons in the Closet;" an engrossing, psychological character-driven drama. A well-constructed film, "Skeletons in the Closet" relies on the sheer talent of its leading actors to brings theses characters to life, and to supply much more depth of characterization than you would find in one of those similarly themed films shown conastantly on cable's Lifetime channel. Yes, "Skeletons in the Closet" has all the markings of a television movie, right down to the casting of Linda Hamilton, who though best known for her works with James Cameron ("Terminator" & "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" ) has had her share of starring roles in so-called "Movies of the Week." Unlike other cable fare films, "Skeletons in the Closet" actually works rather well in its creation of suspense and believable conflict provided by the writers.

In the past, a fatal house fire has led to the scarring of father and son, Will and Seth Reid. Will has been left with physical scars, while his son has grown up with his own share of emotional scarring. Growing up without a mother, who was lost in the opening house fire, Seth 's emotional damage provides a strong catalyst for suspicion and doubt to raise their ugly heads, and to open the door for strong father-to-sons conflicts to emerge.

Will (the constantly amazing Treat Williams) is a model employee, racking up the big accounts with the aid of co-worker Tina. Despite the problems beginning to show in his son, Will begins an affair with Tina. The first sign of troubled youth comes when a gift that Seth has made to his girlfriend - a necklace made from animal bones - is abruptly returned by her father ("N.Y.P.D. Blue's" Gordon Clapp). That his horrific talisman could have been bought at a head-banger store never enters these parents thoughts, as Will provides chastisement to his son. Further warning signs come when Will is called to the high school prom by Seth's date. Seth has flown off the handle, mistreating his date and calling her names. Later that night, it is discovered that one of the students is missing, presumably dead. Seth admits to having been in the company of this student, in a remote area, sharing a bottle of booze.

As Will begins his romantic liaison with Tina (Hamilton), more evidence points to a criminal life being lead by Seth. Gifts are exchanged which may or may not have belonged to missing or murdered men. Seth leaves town for a short time saying that he has enlisted in the army, but returns with decidedly non-military hair. Is he really a problem child, or is Will adjusting to his impending middle-age with paranoid delusions? There are no simple answers to be found in "Skeletons in the Closet," but the answers it gives are startling, and often intense.

Artisan Entertainment has provided an impeccable presentation here. Shot on High Definition Video, there is nothing lacking in the picture quality. Presented with an anamorphic widescreen transfer the video is granted a very life-like quality, with strong fleshtones, deep, rich blacks and blemish-free. Given the subdued quality of the hues, more than adequately portrayed by the details of High Definition, this presentation becomes near to reference quality. Even if the script is more often than not cable televison fodder, the picture quality is unlike any television movie.

I found the audio portion of the presentation to be highly problematic. This being a dialogue driven film, I was constantly adjusting the volume, tweaking it here and there just to hear the dialogue. So much of the dialogue is presented in whispered tones, but the musical score is geared quite high, that often the dialogue is drowned out. Jonathan Jackson's reed-thin voice suffers the most throughout the film. At least "Skeletons in the Closet" has been formatted with Closed Captioning for the Hearing Impaired, though more often than not, those Close Captions are paraphrased rather than literal. Neither the Dolby Digital 5.1 or the 2.0 ever reach the heights of perfection that the video portion does.

Easter eggs can be found on this disc, surprisingly enough. Two deleted scenes are hidden in one of the menu screens, and although they're not spectacular, the decision to cut them was wise. Also featured is a very self-congratulatory Audio Commentary from Donna and Wayne Powers: the script-writers and producers. The track details the decade-long struggle to get "Skeletons in the Closet" onto the screen, and the niceties of working with Treat Williams. A lot of the same information can be found in the inlay sleeve's text, which is reminiscent of the Universal Signature Series, right down to the signatures. Textually, on the disc itself are major, well-done Cast and Crew Information: not your standard chronological listings, but finely composed descriptions of all the major participants in the production. I would like to see more Talent Files to be as carefully produced as these were from other companies. Spoken about in the commentary track, and written of in the textual files, is the short-subject film made with Treat Williams prior to "Skeletons in the Closet," but, "The Taming Power of the Small" is not to be found, although the commentary track specifically states that the short is part of the DVD. If some intrepid viewer stumbles into this well-hidden feature, please, let me know. A standard Theatrical Trailer rounds out Artisan's well-produced disc.

If you're a fan of "Markie Post Lifetime Televsion Movies," then "Skeletons in the Closet" should offer a pleasant viewing experience, since it take an issue usually addressed by the Television for Women channel, and grafts the masculine gist onto it. Treat Williams successfully brings a strength and depth to the film, which will continue to haunt you after the credits have rolled. A very nice package from Artisan should delight DVD mavens who are on the lookout for a taut little drama, boasting a dynamic set of performances from its two leads.

(3.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




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