The Glass House (2001 film)

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The Glass House
The Glass House (2001 film).jpg
Original theatrical release poster
Directed byDaniel Sackheim
Produced byNeal H. Moritz
Written byWesley Strick
StarringLeelee Sobieski
Stellan Skarsgård
Diane Lane
Bruce Dern
Kathy Baker
Trevor Morgan
Chris Noth
Music byChristopher Young
CinematographyAlar Kivilo
Edited byHoward E. Smith
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
September 14, 2001 (2001-09-14)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million[1]
Box office$23.6 million[1]

The Glass House is a 2001 American psychological mystery thriller film directed by Daniel Sackheim and written by Wesley Strick. The film stars Leelee Sobieski, Stellan Skarsgård, Diane Lane, Bruce Dern, Kathy Baker, Trevor Morgan and Chris Noth.

The film received generally negative reviews and was a box office bomb, grossing only $23 million on a $30 million production budget; the main reason cited for the financial failure of the film was the fact that the film was released 3 days after the September 11 attacks.


Sixteen-year-old Ruby Baker (Leelee Sobieski) and her eleven-year-old brother Rhett (Trevor Morgan) lose their parents, Dave and Grace, in a car accident, their parents' will is not a recent one but, in accordance with its terms, the children are placed under the guardianship of family neighbors from some years back, the childless couple Erin (Diane Lane) and Terry (Stellan Skarsgård) Glass, who live in a large glass house in Malibu.

There are early indications that all is not well; the children have to share a room; they are no longer educated privately; Rhett is allowed to play with games consoles at all times; and Ruby is made uneasy by Terry's sexual hints when they are alone. Ruby comes across unlabeled pharmaceuticals and sees Erin injecting herself, though the couple claims this is for diabetes. Ruby tries unsuccessfully to get the children's estate and trust fund lawyer Alvin Begleiter (Bruce Dern) to accept her concerns and a visiting social worker is taken in by the couple's assurances.

Ruby discovers a postcard from the children's maternal Uncle Jack (Chris Noth) in the trash, along with a letter from a private school indicating the Glasses unregistered the children and pocketed the $30,000+ tuition money. Ruby also finds signs that Terry is in debt to loan sharks, and she gradually realizes her new foster parents are after the siblings' $4 million trust fund. Ruby becomes suspicious of her parents' death and discovers evidence of the Glasses' involvement from the online news which states that Ruby's parents had been driving a BMW, which was actually one of Terry's cars, instead of their Saab. Moreover, Ruby is expelled from school because her essay, which Terry finished for her seemingly to rekindle their relationship, is found to be plagiarised; it is later revealed that this is Terry's plan to send Ruby to a boarding school far away. After being pushed by the loan sharks to pay off his debt, Terry decides to get money from the financial authority, claiming that it is to be used for the children's benefit. However, his request is denied and he is shown a copy of the un-registration letter from the school, previously faxed to the authority most likely by Ruby, which raises the question of why he needs more money when he has already gotten the tuition money back in his pocket.

Later on, in the middle of the night, Ruby steals Terry's car key, wakes Rhett up, and drives off in his Jaguar, attempting to escape, she is unfortunately stopped by the police who demands to see her driver's license. The kids are recaptured in the car on the road by Terry and Erin who talk the police into letting them go. Back at home, while Ruby attempts to run away again, Terry slaps Ruby, knocking her down, and Erin drugs her. Terry then tells Erin they must get rid of Ruby. Overcome by guilt and having lost her medical license due to her drug abuse, Erin commits suicide. Terry locks the kids in the basement and sabotages his car, expecting the kids to make another escape attempt and consequently die in it. However, the loan sharks, alerted by Ruby, appear at Terry's house, kill Mr. Begleiter (who has come to confront Terry and revealed his complicity, though without being aware of the Glasses' corrupted intention), repossess Terry's Jaguar and Ferrari, and insist on taking a ride. Terry begs them to reconsider, or to at least take another car, the Volvo instead of the Jaguar which he has earlier cut the brake line. Having heard everything, Ruby rushes to stab the tires of the Volvo with a knife, causing the loan sharks to put Terry in the Jaguar and drive away in it; the car then goes over a ledge and crashes, killing the loan sharks, but Terry survives.

Meanwhile, the children are picked up by a friendly cop; the policeman stops at the scene of the accident and, while investigating, Terry knocks him out. After climbing back up the embankment, and armed with a gun, Terry tries to lure Ruby and Rhett toward him. Instead, Ruby hits Terry with the police car, killing him instantly. In the end, Ruby and Rhett end up living with their Uncle Jack, who takes them to Chicago, where they visit their parents' grave and embrace each other.


Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS and DVD on January 2, 2002. A Blu-ray version of the film has yet to be released; the original cut of the film was reported to be 180 minutes long, with 74 minutes' worth of footage missing from the theatrical cut. Kip Pardue played Leelee Sobieski's love interest in the original cut though all of his scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Of all the deleted footage, only two scenes managed to survive, they are included on the DVD as deleted scenes (listed below):

  • After Ruby faints when she finds the cops at her house, she wakes up the next morning believing her parents' accident was only a nightmare. When she heads downstairs, the neighbors are there to tell her it wasn't. Ruby sits at the table and cries as the camera slowly pans away from her.
  • Ruby and Rhett are seen at their parents' funeral burying their ashes at the cemetery.

Because of the film's critical and financial failure, the studio had little interest in keeping unused footage and the missing 74 minutes' worth of footage has since been considered lost.


Box office[edit]

The film opened at number two in its opening weekend at the US box office, behind Hardball, in which Diane Lane also stars. The Glass House grossed $18,150,259 domestically and $5,469,350 overseas, grossing a total of $23,619,609; the film's production budget was $30 million, resulting in a box-office bomb.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that the film received positive reviews by 21% of the 84 surveyed critics; the average rating was 4.2 out of 10, and the consensus is: "Due to obvious plot twists and foreshadowing, The Glass House fails to thrill. By the end, it degenerates into ludicrousness."[2] Roger Ebert rated the film 2 out of 4 stars and criticized the film's script.[3] Writing in The New York Times, A. O. Scott called it unintentionally funny.[4] Robert Koehler of Variety also called the film unintentionally funny and questioned why so many talented actors signed on to a poor script.[5] Edward Guthmann, of the San Francisco Chronicle, criticized the film's violence and the timing of the release, which coincided with the September 11 attacks (in fact, for many critics it was the first film they saw after returning to work).[6][7] In a more positive review, USA Today's Claudia Puig rated the film two out of four stars but called it "eerily engrossing."[8]


A direct-to-video sequel, Glass House: The Good Mother, was released in 2006; the film did not feature any of the original characters and did not take place in the same house.


  1. ^ a b c "The Glass House". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  2. ^ "The Glass House". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (2001-09-14). "The Glass House". Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  4. ^ Scott, A. O. (2001-09-15). "The Glass House (2001) FILM REVIEW; It's Supposed to Be Scary, You See, Not Humorous". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  5. ^ Koehler, Robert (2001-09-13). "The Glass House". Variety. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  6. ^ Guthmann, Edward (2001-09-14). "'Glass House' a trashy thriller". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  7. ^ Lemire, Christy (2013-09-11). "Revisiting Sept. 11 in Film". Retrieved 2013-09-11.
  8. ^ Puig, Claudia (2001-09-13). "Sobieski, Skarsgaard Give 'House' a Scary Gloss". USA Today. Retrieved 2013-08-21.

External links[edit]