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The Glass House 

The Glass House opens with a group of teenage girls at a horror movie. Three of the teens are scared out of their wits, while Ruby (Leelee Sobieski) looks on with boredom. Maybe Ruby knows that her real life is about to get much more frightening.

A few days later, Ruby's parents are killed in a car crash. She and her younger brother Rhett are sent to live with old friends, Terry and Erin Glass. At first, everything seems fine. The Glasses live in a huge house in Malibu and seem to care deeply for their two new charges. But there are strange omens of things to come.

Why do Ruby and her 11-year-old brother have to share a room? What is Erin (Diane Lane) doing with all of that exotic medicine in her cabinet? And why is Terry (Stellan Skarsgard) always watching Ruby when she gets undressed?

The first half hour of The Glass House sets the foundation for a creepy sexual flick, with Ruby having to fend off the unwanted attention of an older man. Suddenly, though, the film switches gears and becomes a creepy financial flick, with Ruby having to protect her inheritance from her greedy guardians.

This is an exceedingly strange narrative move. Most of the movie's target audience--teenage girls--could probably identify with a beautiful teen dealing with a lecherous boor. But how many even know what a trust fund is, much less the intricacies of embezzlement and fraud?

Director Daniel Sackheim tries to keep the tension high with lots of stormy nights, ominous music (courtesy of Christopher Young), and Sobieski screaming her head off, but the film just gets progressively more and more ludicrous. Vicious loan sharks show up, Ruby is sedated and, worst of all, the kids are thrown into the basement!

Trying desperately to keep her dignity through all of this is Sobieski (Here On Earth), who has the statuesque beauty of an old film star but unfortunately little of that maturity. Worse, Sackheim seems to think that Sobieski is on screen to be ogled, so we're forced to watch a long swimming sequence with Leelee in a rather skimpy bikini.

I have no idea why Skarsgard is in this movie. Better known for his work in indie flicks like Breaking the Waves and Time Code, he's clearly just picking up a paycheck in this movie. Diane Lane (The Perfect Storm) is doing the same. Of course, they're just stealing ours. 

By J. Robert Parks 9/13/2001

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