The Glass House


Directed by: Daniel Sackheim
Written by:Wesley Strick
Starring: Leelee Sobieski, Diane Lane, Stellan Skarsgard, Bruce Dern, Trevor Morgan, Kathy Baker
Released: October 18, 2001
Grade: B+

In a week of many releases, The Glass House snuck by with little press and is better for it.  I consistently criticise trailers for giving away a film’s premise and key plot twists but having not seen a trailer or even read a review, I was kept surprised as developments unfolded.

16-year-old Ruby (Sobieski) is out partying with her girlfriends and returns home late to find two police officers waiting for her.  She begins her defence by stoutly apologising for sneaking out but the police are there for other reasons.  Out celebrating their wedding anniversary, both her parents were killed in a car accident.

The shock subsides and reality sets in for both Ruby and her 11-year-old brother Rhett (Morgan).  At the funeral, their parents’ financial advisor, Mr. Begleiter (Dern), introduces himself and informs Ruby of their future.  Their parents have left some $4m in trust for them but until entitled, both have been placed into the custody of Terry and Erin Glass (Skarsgard and Lane).  The Glass’s were once next-door neighbours and best friends of the family but have hardly been seen since they moved to Malibu.

Questioning her parents’ wishes to have them stay with Terry and Erin, Ruby is unsettled by her new surroundings.  Rhett is blinded by the fancy house and expensive toys but Ruby senses it’s disguising something sinister.  Why are Terry and Erin fighting?  Why was Erin caught injecting herself with a needle?  Why is Terry getting calls at 3am in the morning?  Why are she and Rhett being watched so closely?

With ten years of experience on the small screen, director Daniel Sackheim makes his motion picture debut with The Glass House and he’s worth following.  Most of the film is set at a lavish mountain-top house made mostly of glass.  Throw in a little rain and you’ve got an eerily creepy locale that’s perfectly exploited by Sackheim.  Composer Christopher Young adds tension to the mix with another of his renowned musical scores.

Leelee Sobieski (Deep Impact) plays the leading role with restrained intelligence.  She acts as anyone would in the same situation which plays favourably with the audience.  Youngster Trevor Morgan is also notable in an emotional performance.  The 14-year-old is finding sudden notoriety in the film industry with roles in Jurassic Park 3, The Patriot and The Sixth Sense.  He’s one to watch.

The Glass House suffers in its ability to find a conclusion.  After being extremely well developed, it reaches a point where it becomes too crazy to consider and the ending is justifiable proof.  Whilst I won’t offer my own alternate suggestions, a more logical conclusion would have maintained the heightened suspense.  Without breaking new ground, The Glass House has an added freshness that hopefully won’t go stale.