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Rated: PG-13 (Sinister thematic elements, violence, drug content and language)
Running Time: 107 minutes
Starring: LeeLee Sobieski, Diane Lane, Stellan Skarsgard, Trevor Morgan, Bruce Dern
Written by: Wesley Strick
Directed by: Daniel Sackheim
Retail Price: $27.95
Features: Audio Commentary with Writer Wesley Strick and Director Daniel Sakcheim, Deleted Scene with Optional Commentary, Interviews, Filmographies, Theatrical Trailers
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (28 Chapters)
Released: January 2nd, 2002
"The Glass House" was a movie that opened during September 2001, in fact, a few days after the earth-shattering tragedy of September 11th. I don't know if audiences were not in the mood or they were too glued to their television screens during that weekend (not looking for escapism at that moment), but the film quickly bombed at the box office and got out of theaters (I guess people to get to some escapism took a little bit longer). I guess it didn't help the film was panned by critics too (throw stones at this "house"). Despite being pretty big fans of the actors in this movie, I will admit I was not getting my hopes up. However, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the film.
The film follows Ruby Baker (LeeLee Sobieski) and her brother Rhett (Trevor Morgan). They seem to have the good life, until their parents are tragically killed in a car accident. As their world is rocked, some close family friends, the Glasses, become their guardians and take them into their wondrous glass home. However, while the Glasses seem incredibly nice and caring at first, they're truly a messed up couple. Erin Glass (Diane Lane) has some sort of drug problem, while Terry Glass (Stellan Skarsgard) has to pay off some loans... and can't come up with the money. And it just so happen that the Baker parents left their children with a four million dollar fortune. Ruby soon suspects that her new guardians aren't what they may seem... and somehow, they're living with the Glasses because of them (the back of the box somewhat ruins what may be a turning point to some, but I won't ruin it here).
The movie is pretty predictable, but I will admit it does have a lot of good twists and turns, and more importantly, it's very entertaining. Wesley Strick's screenplay is pretty well written. He establishes a great sense of the characters, and fleshing them out pretty nicely. I really thought how the Baker children and their world being rocked was nicely conveyed, and how they have to go along with the punches and how they have to suffer more trauma. The relationships Ruby has with Terry and Eric are also pretty well developed. You know how they'll start (friendly, warm) and you know how they'll end, but the way Strick does it is just right. He doesn't go overboard and doesn't underplay things either. It's what's on screen and the little things, some implied and some obvious, that do count. There's a good balance to the script too, with things constantly building up and going on, things getting more "thriller-ish" until the climax and finale. How it's written and how the action is done is just right and very good in my opinion.
Director Daniel Sackheim, making his feature debut, brings across a very slick thriller. The film has a great flow to it. Sackheim creates a creepy atmosphere with well rounded shots. Despite the fact you probably know what's going to happen, there is some eeriness that cannot be denied. Perhaps the performances make this movie even better and make it even more believable in a sense. LeeLee Sobieski, who I believe is one of our great young actresses out there today and will be an even more widely respected and noticed with time (I think she'll be one of the best leading ladies in the future) delivers a strong performance here as Ruby. She captures a lot of strength the character offers and how her world instantly changes, and how she must deal with the rather screwed up Glasses. I'm sure people will view her performance in different ways (standard heroine in distress and nothing more, perhaps?) but if you really watch and think about it, Sobieski makes great transistions with Ruby. Stellan Skarsgard is downright intense and mesmerizing as Terry... he's a screwed up guy with abusive patterns within him, and Skarsgard gets the whole sneakish and darkness in him just right. Finally, there's Diane Lane, who, as always, is great. Lane may not be a lead in every film, but her supporting performances bring so much to the films she's in. She's great and they're downright effective. With Erin Glass, that is no exception.
"The Glass House" should have done much better at the box office (perhaps it would have found more of an audience if 9/11 did not take place) and I found it to be overbashed by the critics. This film does not bring anything new to the thriller genre, but if you're looking for some pretty intense acting, believable performances and just a fun film to watch one Saturday night, "The Glass House" is it. Don't miss it... perhaps it'll gain a bigger audience on video.
"The Glass House" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full screen on the other side. Both of these are great transfers, so take your viewing preference and enjoy. I'll get the bad out of the way first: some blemishes pop up here and there and I noticed a good deal of noise on the transfer too. Other than that though, the picture here is fantastic. Detail and black levels are rock solid, with the color pallette being perfectly represented here to capture the darkness of the colors the film offers throughout. Color saturation is excellent as I didn't notice any bleeding. There is a sharpness in these transfers that cannot be denied either. Overall, very pleasing with some minor flaws that won't disappoint at all.
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is rather terrific. I found the suspense of the film growing all around me throughout thanks to the intenisty and strength of the sound elements in the mix. Christopher Young's fitting and well composed score builds up wonderfully and I must say made me cringe to my chair a little and even pop up once or twice. The score is well mixed, and so are the surrounds that will give some nice jolts to your home theater system. The finale at the end is booming and is really action oriented to bring your speakers to life, while the car crash flashbacks of sorts Ruby has pull a lot of punches, making me feel I was actually caught up in it. Dialogue is easy to hear and crisp, while the other sounds do not overpower it or each other. The subwoofer gets a good work out here too... overall, like the transfer, no disappointments at all. One of the better mixes I've heard lately. In case you don't want a 5.1 mix, there are Dolby Surround mixes in French (one of LeeLee's languages!) and English, plus English closed captions and subtitles in English and French.
It's not a full blown out special edition, but there are some nice features worth checking out on the disc. The main supplement has to be the Audio Commentary with Writer Wesley Strick and Director Daniel Sakcheim. This is a straight forward commentary that is well worth a listen if you liked the movie. There aren't many pauses thankfully, and the two appear to be rather friendly and talk about a number of things. They talk about revisions to the script, the characters and the themes the film presents to them. Again, it's all straight forward and they each get in what they have to say and are pretty insightful, and seemed to have a nice time making the movie. I wish there was a bit more on the actors and more technical things, though. Still, this is pretty robust.
We're treated to a Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary. I liked it a lot and think it's a very nice visual showcase of sorts, but in the commentary, the two discuss the cut. It lasts a little over two minutes, and involves Ruby and her parents and the funeral. I don't think it would have hurt to add it back in the film, but it's here in glorious non-anamorphic widescreen (ech).
Rounding the disc out, we have some Filmographies, and in that section, there's an icon where you can click for some Interviews. The interviews are with producer Neal H. Moritz, LeeLee Sobieski, Stellan Skarsgard and Diane Lane. Finally, we have two Theatrical Trailers. One is for "The Glass House" and is presented in anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 and the other is for the teen hit "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (also produced by Moritz... gotta love Columbia/Tri-Star for always cross advertising). That is also in Dolby Digital 5.1 and in non-anamorphic widescreen.
"The Glass House" is an entertaining thrill ride, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. The film has some decent extras on the disc and also features a wonderful presentation. Don't listen to the critics... this is a well rounded movie that's really worth checking out.