Glass House [2001/I]

Domestic tensions turn intimately sinister in this pulpy potboiler, which develops a steely sense of menace. The trouble begins when Mr. and Mrs. Glass (Stellan Skarsgård, Diane Lane) are appointed legal guardianship of 16-year-old Ruby (Leelee Sobieski) and her 11-year-old brother (Trevor Morgan) after their parents are killed in a car accident. As trusted former neighbors, the Glasses welcome the orphans into their luxurious Malibu home, but the all-glass structure turns into a gilded cage when Mr. Glass's motivations are revealed to be anything but friendly. With plot-thickening roles for Bruce Dern and Kathy Baker, the film builds considerable suspense before tailspinning into absurdity, and veteran TV director Daniel Sackheim takes full advantage of his prismatic setting and Sobieski's burgeoning sex appeal. The rickety script by Wesley Strick (echoing his rehash of Cape Fear) eventually veers toward self-parody, at which point The Glass House qualifies as a high-gloss slasher pic. --Jeff Shannon

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