Worth A Look: 18.33%
Pretty Bad: 33.33%
Total Crap: 15%
5 reviews, 30 user ratings
|Glass House, The (2001)
by Scott Weinberg
Some sub-genres simply will not die. Ever since Michael Douglas hit box-office gold by cheating on his wife with a psycho bitch from Hell, nobody is above suspicion. In the relatively new "domestic psychotic" classification of cinema, we have been offered a whole bunch of ridiculously unrealistic psychopaths.This cinematic movement began in the middle of the most selfish decade ever. The 80's. Surely there's nothing more horrifying than a mentally unbalanced woman who has just had sex with a married man.
"He among you who has never liked a crappy flick, cast the first stone."
The success of Fatal Attraction has had a depressingly long-lasting effect in the world of modern movie thrillers. Over the past 17 years, we have been victim of
Psycho Roommates (Single White Female)
Psycho Cops (Unlawful Entry)
Psycho Babysitters (The Hand That Rocks the Cradle)
Psycho Nannies (The Guardian)
Psycho Boyfriends (Fear)
Psycho Husbands (Sleeping with the Enemy)
Psycho Ex-Husbands (The Stepfather)
Psycho Wives (Serial Mom)
Psycho Ex-Wives (Mother's Boys)
Psycho Aunts (The Kiss)
Psycho Grandparents (The Granny)
Psycho Girlfriends (The Crush)
Psycho Secretaries (Office Killer)
Psycho Temp Workers (The Temp)
Psycho Bosses (AntiTrust)
Psycho Stepfathers (Domestic Disturbance)
Psycho Stepbrothers (The Good Son)
Psycho Neighbors (Arlington Road)
To say nothing of psycho dentists, psycho ice cream men and psycho paperboys. All in all, suburbia has been a scary place to live these past few years.
Hmmm...Psycho Foster Parents! Surely this was the next logical step. (I'm eagerly anticipating the upcoming films Plumber from Hell and Hydrant!) But what's this? One of these psycho XXXX movies is actually pretty good? Well, yes and no.
Yes because The Glass House is definitely a "so bad it's good" flick, and No because it's also just a bad movie. But this one certainly has all the requirements necessary to join that acclaimed roster of movies mentioned above: a lily-white protagonist trapped in a web of deceit from which there is no easy escape, a series of laughably contrived plot divergences, and a screenplay that often veers head-on into "camp" territory.
Poor Ruby Baker. Not only is she on academic probation at her high school, but she also has a bratty little brother. Oh, and her parents were recently killed in a horrible auto accident. Misery piles upon misery before Ruby and little brother Rhett (!) are invited to live with their old neighbors - the Glasses. (That's the pinnacle of cleverness; their name is Glass and their house is also...never mind.)
After relocating to the massive Glass manse, Ruby quickly realizes that things are kinda...off. Not only is the comely 16-tear-old forced to (gasp) share a bedroom with her brother, but her new foster parents also expect Ruby to attend school! Surely cinema doesn't get more compelling than this.
Ruby, you see, is due to inherit a large sum of money from her recently deceased parents. This comes at an opportune time for Terry Glass, as he owes a lot of money to some gangsters and is about to be killed because of it. His plan is to...well, we're never really made sure what Terry's plan for Ruby is, other than it's gotta be something pretty unsavory.
But something weird starts to happen. The Glass House starts to get...kind of interesting! Not in a "Wow, this is a good movie" sort of way, but more of a "Damn, is this silly, can't wait to see how it ends up" feeling. Chalk this one up to a "guilty pleasure" status.
Adding to the campy charm is a handful of actors who overplay nearly every single frame of film. As the duplicitous Terry Glass, Stellan Skarsgard (Deep Blue Sea) is a B-movie hoot. You never once trust this guy, especially when he slaps on his ingratiating, smarmy little smile. As his drug-addicted and sincerely repressed wife, Diane Lane (The Perfect Storm) goes overboard a bit, but I mean it in a good way. Diane vamps it up like I've never seen before...and I've seen Lady Beware. The always watchable Bruce Dern (Diggstown) shows up for a few enjoyable scenes as a sympathetic lawyer...who may indeed be a psycho also.
As Ruby, Leelee Sobieski (Deep Impact) is almost better than the movie deserves. While the movie quickly degenerates into unintentional comedy, Leelee maintains a pretty strong performance. Considering how silly the proceedings are, perhaps she deserves an Oscar for her work here. No, not [i[really!
Screenwriter Wesley Strick (The Saint, Final Analysis) stocks the film with several outrageous plot devices. My favorites include how Terry sabotages Ruby's education by plagiarizing a paper for her, and the ONE blood relative who pops in after the opening credits and once more at the end, solely to expedite a tidy finale. Gotta love such masterful storytelling.
What's most entertaining about silly thrillers like The Glass House is simply the act of poking holes in it. The viewer realizes that Ruby's plight could be solved by any of a thousand logical choices, yet the heroine steadfastly heads for the least effective ones imaginable. (Wait till you get a look at the visit by Kathy Baker, as a stalwart social worker whose efforts for justice a thwarted by a...new...bed!)If these suburban psycho potboilers are your cup of tea, then you'll find The Glass House to be a satisfying enough affair. For those freaks (like yours truly) who've actually SEEN all these movies, this one will almost play like a spoof. Either way, it's a bad film, and one that's certainly worth seeing.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=2006&reviewer=128
originally posted: 11/14/01 15:19:13