Friday, January 2, 2015

The Glass House (live action movie), on DVD

The Glass House is a thriller. I'm pretty sure I first saw it not long after it came out, way back in 2001. The characters are nothing special, the story doesn't really do anything unusual, and there are some bits that don't make sense. I still enjoyed it, even on a re-watch.

The story: Ruby Baker and her little brother are taken in by Terry and Erin Glass after their parents are killed in a car accident. Terry and Erin's house is huge, slick, modern, and kind of sterile – not really very kid-friendly. It's a big change, and everyone has to do some adjusting.

There are hints fairly early on that there's something not quite right about the Glass household. Ruby's calls are maybe being monitored, Terry is kind of creepy, and Erin might have a drug addiction. Ruby's brother, appeased by video game consoles, is perfectly happy with his new life, so Ruby does some digging on her own.

I didn't really like Ruby. She looked down on her classmates at her new school and barely even tried to make friends. The movie required her to be as isolated as possible, and so she was. Aside from Ruby, the only other characters of interest were Terry, Erin, and, to a certain extent, Mr. Begleiter, Ruby's trust lawyer – Ruby's brother barely existed outside of the Glass household.

One of the things I enjoyed about this movie was how the suspense slowly built up. Ruby didn't really know who she could trust. Adults outside of the Glass household, like Mr. Begleiter, were either potentially untrustworthy or too easily inclined to dismiss her worries. Terry and Erin seemed perfect, at first, and the only one who spotted the cracks in their facade – the fighting, money problems, and underlying tension –  was Ruby.

I also liked the “look” of the movie. There were some really nice shots, and the use of color was pretty good. That said, I could have done without the “Ruby in a bikini/bra” bits. It didn't happen often, but I'd love it if directors and screenwriters stopped using female characters' nudity or partial nudity as shorthand for their vulnerability. And Terry could have been creepy without the whole “Is he secretly drooling over Ruby?” aspect, especially since that had absolutely nothing to do with Terry and Erin's plans.

I had forgotten how old this movie was until I saw the scenes with Ruby talking on the phone with her friend (was that enormous thing a cordless phone, or was it a cellphone?) or using her computer (AOL software; dial-up Internet). Aside from those parts, and Ruby not being able to head over to the nearest Starbucks to contact whoever she needed to via free wi-fi, I thought The Glass House still worked fairly well. The technology wasn't really as important as Terry and Erin's creepiness and Ruby feeling increasingly trapped.

The ending went a bit overboard (Terry is the Terminator!), but otherwise this made for a nice rewatch project.

Extras:

Audio commentary featuring the writer and director, a deleted scene with optional commentary from the writer and director, filmographies, and a couple theatrical trailers (one of them for The Glass House). My DVD box also says there are "exclusive filmmaker interviews," but either they weren't there or I somehow skipped over them.

The audio commentary was actually pretty good, although I decided not to listen to the whole thing. They talked about scenes that were cut, why certain scenes were shot the way they were, etc. I liked that they were willing to admit that certain scenes weren't as strong as they could have been.

After hearing all that talk about scenes that were cut out (the final version of the film was 1.5 hours shorter than it could have been), I was kind of disappointed that there was only one deleted scene. And also kind of amused. I can't remember the last time I saw a "deleted scene" extra that only included a single deleted scene.

I only skimmed the filmographies portion, so it's possible that the filmmaker interviews were in that section and I missed them. It just didn't seem worth looking through stuff I could easily get via IMDb.

The trailer for The Glass House was terrible, especially after hearing the writer and director talk about how they'd debated whether to market the movie as a drama in order to make the thriller aspect a surprise. The trailer was one giant spoiler.

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