Here's the set-up. The comfortable suburban life of Ruby Baker (Leelee
Sobieski) and her kid brother Rhett (Trevor Morgan) is destroyed when
their parents die in a car crash while celebrating their 20th
anniversary. Soon after, per the terms of a trust, the kids are sent to
live with their folks' well-to-do friends Erin Glass (Diane Lane) and
her husband Terry (Stellan Skarsgard) in a striking glass home on the
At first, everything seems peachy. The Glasses purchase suitably hip
clothes for Ruby and two, count 'em, two videogame systems for Rhett. Oh
sure, they make the teens share one bedroom, but they assure them that
it is a temporary measure. Then the estate lawyer (Bruce Dern) informs
Ruby and Rhett that they are collectively worth $4 million.
Soon, Ruby begins to notice things. Terry and Erin fight a lot.
Overheard conversations indicate that Terry may be in debt to some very
nasty men. Erin periodically gets a glassy-eyed stare and her medicine
cabinet looks like the controlled substances shelf at Walgreens. Terry
drives like a lunatic and has a tendency to lean in close to Ruby, far
too close. Could it be that the kids' new guardians are not as pure as
they appeared to be?
Well, of course. "The Glass House" is a thriller aimed at teens and, for
a while, it looks like it just might work. Once Ruby realizes that there
is trouble in Pepperland, a nice cat and mouse game develops between her
and the Glasses. But the story degenerates steadily and finally becomes
just another horror show with a psycho chasing adolescents. Such a
Having Leelee Sobieski (I still think of her as Helen Hunt Jr.) face off
against Stellan Skarsgard is a great idea. She is one of the smartest
young actors working today and he comes off as both intelligent and
scary even when cast in a sympathetic part. But what's the point of
shipping the brother and the wife to separate parts of the house for
much of the film, with the boy plugged into videogame nirvana and the
wife in a chemical one?
Further, why in the world did the Glasses make two teenagers share one
bedroom in the first place? Con artists with a plan as elaborate as the
one concocted by this pair would surely know that the importance of
keeping up appearances. And Terry Glass would certainly make a better
attempt at suppressing his dirty old man impulses.
Ah well, another week in 2001, another new release that starts off
strong, then goes straight down the drain. What a lousy year.
Copyright © 2001 Edward Johnson-Ott