If you’re looking for a movie that gives you a moderate dose of the willies, without being too taxing on the neurons - this one just about tickles the intellect. Just!
What could have had tremendous potential as a racy spine-chiller turns into an unimaginative narrative with a tepid structure. Two teenage kids, Ruby (Sobieski) and Rhett (Morgan) Baker, lose their parents to a car crash and have to move into the Glass house.
A wry allusion to the family name of their legal guardians, Terrance and Erin Glass, their long displaced neighbours. Before the incident, the kids conformed to the urban Yankee model - staying up past bedtime, doing the rounds at the movies, getting rid of telltale cigarette smoke, getting heady over video games, the whole shebang! But after they moved house, to a virtual Glass Citadel in Malibu, they start leading a slightly-different version of the life they used to know, and it spins further off its axis every day.
Uncommonly, they're allotted a single bedroom, in spite of an excess of space, and then admitted into schools different from where they were supposed to be at. Ruby’s sharp senses gives her assorted reasons to fear for the safety of herself and her brother, as she absorbs the frequent quarrels that take place between her guardians, the shifty mannerisms of Terry, and the dope-induced state of Erin. Learning more than they intended her to, she begins to detect a larger conspiracy at work, and worms her way through the glass that is her perpetual confine.
Rookie feature director Sackheim scores an average on this, his first. An Emmy award-winning director, he allows the idea of this plot to cloud his judgement, and does not squeeze the juice out of his material. The actors are mediocre, with Sobieski delivering less than what she usually does. This actor has the knack of transporting more with less, letting her characteristic quiet and minimalism afford twice the thrust - but not this time.
The magnificence and mystery of the house itself is enough to spark the horror effect, had it only been captured acutely. Most of the almost-nerve-racking scenes are played up with sheets of rain and raucous thunder - the oldest recipe in the book.This article was first published on 05 Jan 2002.