Teen thrillers always are fifty-fifty depending on the audience. Half of the audience goes in expecting a real thriller and is disappointed. The other half goes in expecting suspense from a young teenager's mentality, and can be entertained.
The Glass House, starring Leelee Sobieski (Deep Impact) and Stellan Skarsgaard (Good Will Hunting), is a thriller, that, of course, should be taken with a grain of salt, given that its main character is a 16-year old girl who can't drive if her life depended on it (funny, huh?) and suspects that her foster parents actually murdered her real parents to collect a four million dollar trust fund from her and her brother. It is a teen thriller and because of that nothing too deep should be expected, but surprisingly The Glass House deals out very few stupid moments and moderate suspense.
This movie reminds me of another recent teen thriller called Antitrust, starring Ryan Phillippe and Tim Robbins, where a young man begins to suspect that his boss is hiding something. In many respects, The Glass House and Antitrust are very similar, in formula, in acting, in suspense. If you've seen Antitrust, I'd have to say that The Glass House has less mistakes and a little more action, but Antitrust is slightly smarter and more suspenseful. Let me break it down...
The Glass House is mainly psychological, with Sobieski trying to decide whether her foster parents are actually bad guys or not. There are some moderately suspenseful moments as she tries to hide from them at various times, but I never felt drawn into the movie or the characters. There are a couple small action scenes but I never worried, because I knew that in the end the two kids would end up safe. Sometimes it feels as though The Glass House is trying to be creepier and more horrific than the story provides, and that may be a little slip up by the director.
The movie still is somewhat tense from beginning to end, though, as it barely ever takes a break from the story at hand. The camera angles, complimented by a glass house, which must be every director's best friend, are quite impressive, and while the director goes a little overboard on the rain and thunder, the atmosphere is quite good as well.
In terms of script, The Glass House is decent at best, but at the same time, its actual plot is not bad at all. Each scene might be a little awkward because the script is written as a teen thriller, but when all of the scenes are put together, the result is quite nice.
Sobieski does a decent job as the main character, but she's not perfect. She's not quite as good as Ryan Phillippe in Antitrust, but pretty close. If that doesn't say much, she is outweighed about the same much by Skarsgaard as Phillippe is by Robbins. Skarsgaard does a great job as the bad guy, even if he is a little one-dimensional, and is more entertaining to watch than Robbins in this particular instance.
Everything else aside, the only thing that really hurts The Glass House is the ending. Everything seems a little too convenient and a little too rushed; there is barely any suspense whatsoever. I think it would have been better if Skarsgaard character had lived to go to jail, but, of course, like most movies these days, the bad guy has to die in the end. I also felt that the movie sort of drops Sobieski's friends rather abruptly; it seems as though at one point in the draft Sobieski's friends would become a little more involved in her affairs (maybe just a touch concerned if she doesn't contact any of them for a month?). I did like, though, that the movie does not bother itself with a male love interest.
The Glass House is surprisingly better than what I expected, but the ending is a little trite and not very entertaining. Nevertheless, much of the movie has a moderate level of suspense that makes it a worthy teen thriller.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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