It’s one of the oldest childhood nightmares: your parents die, and evil guardians take over your life. The story has been told by countless fairy tales. The Glass House transposes the tale to contemporary California.
When Ruby (Leelee Sobieski) and Rhett (Trevor Morgan) are orphaned, they are taken into the care of Terry and Erin Glass (Stellan Skarsgård and Diane Lane). This couple seems to good to be true, and, of course, they are. Erin is a junkie, and Terry is in hock to the mob. Naturally, that $4 million trust fund for the kids looks mightily enticing.
It is curious that the spectacular house of the title plays so little part in the film’s climax. We might also raise a few questions about probability. But this is a fairy tale, and fairy tales operate at the level of emotion, not rationality. And the film is undeniably suspenseful. We’ve seen all these tricks before, but dressed up by great art direction and tight performances, they still work.
The sound is truly spectacular. Music and sound effects are in full surround, and at just the right balance. Dialogue is never drowned out, but the sense of ambient sound is very powerful. There is no distortion whatsoever. First class work all around.
You have the choice of watching the film in both the original 2.35:1 widescreen or 1.33:1 formats. The former is obviously preferable. The colours are fabulous — rich, strong and true. The contrasts are bang-on, and the blacks are perfect. And while the number of extras would make me think this disc is dual-layered, I’ll be damned if I noticed the layer transition. There are no transfer problems of any kind.
The menu is scored but still. The primary feature is a commentary by director Daniel Sackheim and writer Wesley Strick. The two cover everything, from genesis of the film onward. Their discussion is scene specific, and marries the thematic to the technical (Sackheim in particular points out how they used colour to take us into the surreal aspects of the film). As well, there is a deleted scene (with optional commentary from Sackheim and Strick), filmographies of Sackheim, produceer Neal H. Moritz, Sobieski, Lane, Dern, Skarsgård and Morgan, short interviews with Moritz, Sobieski, Lane and Skarsgård (linked to their filmographies), trailers for The Glass House and I Know What You Did Last Summer, and liner notes. No half bad.
Quite a number of features packed onto this disc, and what glorious picture and sound. If you feel like being made tense, you could do far worse than picking this up.