The Glass House (2002) / Thriller

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sinister thematic elements, violence, drug content and language
Running time: 106 min.

Cast: Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush, Mia Maestro, Geoffrey Rush
Director: Julie Taymor
Screenplay: Clancy Sigal, Diane Lake, Gregory Nava, Anna Thomas
Review published March 14, 2002

Remember the late 80s, when it seemed like damn near every movie was a paranoid thriller where everyone from the mistress, nanny, girl-next-door, and Fluffy the neighborhood cat was out to destroy the average middle-class family through relentless acts of sadism?  Luckily for us, the Hollywood cycles churned these flicks out of existence, relegating them to late-night Skinemax as their last gasp.  It seems that there are a few filmmakers that still think these movies are still worth watching, and THE GLASS HOUSE is a real dinosaur among the releases of the new millennium.  I have visions of a screenwriter cleaning out his heavily cobwebbed attic, opening that creaky wooden box that contained some personal items long-forgotten, and after almost blinding himself with dust blowing on the stack of papers he pulls out, lo and behold the never-used script called THE GLASS HOUSE emerges.  What's worse than a film coming out a decade after such films were all the rage is the fact that THE GLASS HOUSE would have been bad if it were made when it would have been in demand.

16-year-old Ruby and her 11-year-old brother Rhett's parents die in a car accident, leaving them as orphans until the 'rents best friends, Erin and Tracy Glass, volunteer to become guardians to the two.  The kids move to the Glass' house (double meaning alert!  The Glass' house is a glass house...GENIUS!!) where they are promised a world of goodies.  However the guardians' behavior seem less-than-stellar and Ruby thinks there might be something more sinister behind the fragile facade.

Predictability is the downfall of many a thriller, and THE GLASS HOUSE is a prime example.  It's almost as if you are watching a film twice in a row, since you will not only guess (and guess rightly) what will happen but then are treated to having to watch it actually happen onscreen many minutes later.  Daniel Sackheim directs with some visual flair, but seems to have no idea that this kind of film hasn't a lick of scare-value whatsoever anymore.  Wesley Strick wrote the abominable screenplay, and it should come as no surprise how outdated the film is when you look at his screenwriting history:  ARACHNOPHOBIA (throwback to 50s creature-features), CAPE FEAR (remake of early 60s thriller), FINAL ANALYSIS (Hitchcockian homage), WOLF (more 50s creature-feature stylings), and THE SAINT (based on the 60s TV show).  Hell, Strick is so stuck in the past, he might as well make a silent movie while he's at it!  (Which may be his best film to date since we wouldn't have to endure any more of his horrid dialogue.)

THE GLASS HOUSE might rank as the most worthless release of 2001.  There is no reason it should have been made as it's never going to draw a profit.  There is no reason to see it as we've seen it all before many times over.  There isn't even a reason to rent it on video, since the Mystery/Thriller section of your local video store has 100 films just like it but better.  THE GLASS HOUSE is aptly'd be hard-pressed to find a film more transparent.  If you have to see it, bring a stone.

Qwipster's rating:

2001 Vince Leo