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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Glass House (2001)

"We are here to spoil you rotten."
- Erin Glass (Diane Lane)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: January 07, 2002

Stars: Leelee Sobieski, Diane Lane, Stellan Skarsgard
Other Stars: Trevor Morgan, Bruce Dern
Director: Daniel Sackheim

Manufacturer: DVDS
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sinister thematic elements, violence, drug content, and language
Run Time: 01h:46m:11s
Release Date: January 02, 2002
UPC: 043396062528
Genre: suspense thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C-B+B B-

DVD Review

Releasing a movie is in many ways equivalent to playing a round of poker. Money is gambled with, people directly related with the gamble sweat over the outcome, and showing your hand can be deadly. Most of these dilemmas are easily remedied, yet showing too much has been perhaps the greatest blow to many a movie's success. This is made apparent in director Daniel Sackheim's The Glass House, a thriller that would be entertaining, and at moments terrifying, if only the promotions hadn't given away the entire plot.

Spoiler Warning: Contains spoilers for those who have not seen the film, if you wish to be surprised do not read until after viewing the film

As The Glass House opens we are introduced to two seemingly perfect children living in a seemingly perfect neighborhood. Ruby (Sobieski) is at odds with her parents as any fifteen-year-old is likely to be while Rhett (Morgan) is the typical little brother found in movies like this. In an instant their lives are shattered as their parents meet their end in an off-screen car accident. Soon their parents lawyer (Dern) informs Ruby that due to a provision in their parents will the two will be taken in by Erin (Lane) and Terry (Skarsgard) Glass. At first living with the Glass' doesn't seem too much like a bad deal as they shower the two with clothes and even a Playstation (that would work for me), while providing them with a wonderful residence that is made nearly entirely out of, yup you guessed it, Glass.

Soon, though, Ruby begins to notice strange things happening as she eavedrops on Terry in his office and learns that not all things are what they appear. As luck would have it Ruby and Rhett are each entitled to four million dollars when they turn of legal age, and Terry is in debt to mob-like figures for just about that amount. Suddenly Ruby suspects the Glass' of things that may be directly related to her parent's death as well as maybe her own.

Spoilers end

Why the trailers, TV spots, and posters for The Glass House gave nearly everything about the plot away is a mystery to me. I would like to imagine that with no knowledge of the plot I may well have found The Glass House entertaining enough for a recommendation. As it stands the poor promotion makes this film a bore as you wait for each plot device to come falling into place. A woefully bad choice by the marketing department, as anyone with a pulse would probably admit that the less you know about a thriller the better. Even so, the script by screenwriter Wesley Strick (Cape Fear) depends largely upon chance and the stupidity of its characters.

While the script may well be on auto pilot the production design and cinematography are each of the highest quality. It is a clear sign that the star of the film is the house in which the title gets its name. The Malibu house is simply gorgeous, inside and out. Built on a sound stage in Los Angeles, production designer Jon Gary Steele has crafted a creepy interior design that helps add tension lacking in the script. With an abundant use of water and other reflective objects Steele has created a larger character that overshadows the four actors in the film. Cinematographer Alar Kivilo also does wonderful work as his use of shadows and limited lighting works almost too well with the production design.

In the fall of 2001 Leelee Sobieski was everywhere. From being in peril in the wonderful Joyride to her role as a gothic teenage in My First Mister it was hard to escape the abundantly talented actress, and for once overexposure was a good thing. Through each role Sobieski proved herself to be one of, if not, THE most talented young actress working today. In The Glass House Sobieski is as usual the bright spot in the cast. The other strongpoint is underrated Stellan Skarsgard, who gives a powerful performance as the cold, scheming Terry.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: Boasting a strong 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer The Glass House keeps in line with other releases from Columbia TriStar in that the results are generally quite good. The darkly lit scenes inside the house come off well as the black levels are strong with little grain. The numerous amounts of shadows in the film are crisp while terrific sharpness and detail compliment the reflective interiors of the house. Though the film lacks vibrant colors aside from several early scenes the more muted sides of the Pacific Ocean as well as other exterior shots look fine with nice rich color with no bleeding.

A horribly butchered full-frame version is included on side B of this DVD. To appreciate the beauty of the cinematography and production design choose the original widescreen aspect ratio.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English and Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 track for The Glass House is surprisingly subdued given the score and intense sequences in the film. Dialogue sounds crisp and clear while ambient sounds of rain and other effects are often present in the surround speakers. Overall this is a disappointing track when considering the subject material, I suppose I just wanted more.

A Dolby Surround track is offered in English and French, though each is not as enveloping as the subdued Dolby Digital mix they still get the job done.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English and French with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring I Know What You Did Last Summer
1 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Daniel Sackheim and writer Wesley Strick
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Interviews
Extras Review: Since the film did little at the box office (it was released three days after the horrible September 11th attacks) Columbia TriStar has provided a small but nice selection of extra features.

First up is a screen-specific commentary track by director Daniel Sackheim and writer Wesley Strick, that while not involving, is worth a listen as the two have a few entertaining stories to tell about making the film. What surprised me was that Sackheim willingly admits a mistake or two claiming that one moment in particular was not "his finest hour of storytelling," though there may be something to Strick's admission that he wrote the screenplay in only four weeks. Overall this isn't a terrific track but the two have good chemistry and make for a pleasing way to spend two hours.

A single deleted scene is offered, and as it doesn't offer much in the way of plot, and the deletion of it from the final cut was rightfully done in my opinion. Strick and Sackheim also offer an optional commentary for this scene. Next are interviews with the main members of the cast that are accessible by choosing the cast member bio for an individual and clicking on a broken picture frame for video interviews. The clips deal largely with each cast member talking about the story or their character with Sobieski in particular being extremely well spoken.

The trailer for The Glass House is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound as well as a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Nothing like great sound and a widescreen transfer to help spoil a movie by giving too much information. A trailer for I Know What You Did Last Summer is also offered.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

It would be easy to make a horrible joke at the expense of the title of this film, so I will leave you with this. The Glass House is steeped in mediocrity, telegraphing events in the plot in nearly every way possible. If you have seen the trailer for the film you know what happens, if you haven't give it a rental and see what you think. You may want to throw stones. See I couldn't resist.

 


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