A modern-day fairy tale, complete with a wicked stepmother, an ogre, a scary house and a pair of plucky, resourceful siblings. Before disaster strikes, 16-year-old valley girl Ruby Baker (Leelee Sobieski) and her 11-year-old brother, Rhett (Trevor Morgan), live charmed lives; their happily married parents (Michael O'Keefe, Rita Wilson) love them, and the kids restrict their rebelliousness to PG-13 rated escapades like sneaking out to see "Prom Nightmare" at the mall, nursing a minor-league Nintendo jones and smoking on the sly. Then mom and dad die in a car crash. In the absence of relatives other than mom's estranged brother, Jack (Chris Noth), who lives halfway across the country, Rhett and Ruby are handed off to old family friends Erin (Diane Lane) and Terry (Stellan Skarsgard) Glass, who own a huge house in Malibu. Perched on a cliff and glittering with glass, marble and metal, the place is a riot of sharp angles and reflecting surfaces if it were any colder you'd be able to hang sides of beef in the breakfast nook. Though Rhett is won over by gifts of video games, Ruby quickly realizes that Erin and Terry put the loco in In loco parentis. They make the siblings share a room, prepare weirdly inappropriate meals (what American adolescent likes squid?), eavesdrop, hide mail, cancel Ruby's AOL account, fire the sympathetic housekeeper and isolate the kids at every turn. High strung Erin a doctor with a convenient specialty in pain management has a medicine cabinet full of pharmaceuticals, boozer Terry is overly friendly with Ruby, and there are enough whispered arguments and furtive glances to fuel a fistful of psychological thrillers. And why weren't the Bakers driving their own car on the night of the accident? Though handsomely produced and well cast, this thriller tips its hand far too early: Once Ruby learns that she and Rhett are heirs to a lot of money and the Glass's apparently luxurious lifestyle is built on a shaky foundation, the jig is up. It would be far creepier if there were, at least for a moment, some real question as to whether Ruby is conjuring up horror movie scenarios from her adolescent imagination or the Glasses genuinely are up to no good. The cast, including genre veteran Bruce Dern as a kindly lawyer, do their best with the material, but you can't make a crackling thriller out of soggy cliches.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: A modern-day fairy tale, complete with a wicked stepmother, an ogre, a scary house and a pair of plucky, resourceful siblings. Before disaster strikes, 16-year-old valley girl Ruby Baker (Leelee Sobieski) and her 11-year-old brother, Rhett (Trevor Morgan),… (more)