By Michael Dequina | September 22, 2001

Even if the trailer didn’t give away darn near every turn of its plot, one would still have had an easy time predicting the course of events in “The Glass House.” A formulaic film that is more typical than terrible, “The Glass House” still makes for frustrating viewing, given the level of talent involved.
Topping that list is Leelee Sobieski, whose natural poise lends the preposterous proceedings a certain level of credibility. Her Ruby Baker is introduced as a rebellious high schooler, but she quickly becomes more well-behaved when her and her younger brother Rhett’s (Trevor Morgan) parents are killed in a mysterious auto accident. Ruby and Rhett are then put in the care of wealthy family friends Terry (Stellan Skarsgård) and Erin (Diane Lane) Glass, who not only live in a large hilltop home made of (yes) glass, one of their cars has the license plate “24KGLss.” With all the heavy-handed symbolism, could it be possible that this newly formed household could be in danger of being shattered by a stone?
But of course, and after Ruby rather conveniently happens upon some suspicious conversations involving Terry, she finds out that her new guardians don’t have the most crystal clear of intentions. Director Daniel Sackheim, who cut his helming teeth on numerous episodes of “The X-Files,” somehow manages to generate an air of suspense even if he sometimes too easily falls in the trap of dropping shady “hints” with all the subtlety and grace of a trowel. Ultimately, Sackheim and his able cast cannot overcome the increasingly overdone twists of Wesley Strick’s script (based on his output since, one wonders just how much of the gripping 1991 “Cape Fear” remake was his doing and not director Martin Scorsese’s). Did an unexceptional, unsurprising thriller need to morph into another one of those films with a villain that just won’t die?
Then again, that’s just another example of how by-the-numbers and off-the-rack “The Glass House” is. Sobieski does intermittently rise above the occasion, doing what she can with the film’s only halfway-realistic role; some usually reliable co-stars fare less well: Skarsgård gives in to the histrionics of the script too easily while Lane is stymied by a role that’s a nonentity on the page. Perhaps Lane’s part is most reflective of the whole of the film: neither here nor there, and easily forgotten.

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