It is never a good sign when you are absolutely convinced that a film is far longer than it actually is; case in point being ‘Phantoms’ – based on the book by Dean Koontz (who also wrote the screenplay),it is 92 minutes long but feels like over 2 hours.
Koontz publically detested the film version of ‘Hideaway’ and reportedly kept the adaption of ‘Phantoms’ on a very short leash. Despite this ‘Hideaway’ made twice at much at the box office and both films had pretty similarly awful reviews.
For reasons that I can’t recall I have both films and ‘Phantoms’ is definitely the better of the two but that isn’t saying a great deal as I can’t remember that last time I actually got to the end of ‘Hideaway’. ‘Phantoms’ I have watched to the end at least a couple of times.
‘Phantoms’ starts with two sisters driving into a pretty town surrounded by snow and find that the town deserted – apart from a couple of dead bodies. The younger sister is played by Rose McGowan and the other one is played by an actress who later went on to be in ‘Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House.’ They then find Deputy Ben Affleck, an uber-creepy Liev Schreiber as his deputy and one other disposable policeman.
Together they find more dead bodies and call in the army – plus a Professor who happens to be an expert on “The Ancient Enemy” who is apparently responsible for mass disappearances of humanity (and the dinosaurs) all over history.
With a threat seemingly that big it sort of feels like Doctor Who should appear and save the day, but he doesn’t, instead there are creepy wanderings around in the dark… and after the below picture are SPOILERS!
(Photo from Evan Campbell – who sculpted for the movie!)
The Phantoms are the monster’s converted drones who wander around in the form of some of the people and animals that it has eaten. These Phantoms seem to pop up out of nowhere, as long as there is a drain – which isn’t as close to ‘IT’ as it sounds!
Liev’s character gets his face entirely chewed off by a giant butterfly that comes out of the dark – although that doesn’t stop him coming back as a Phantom and being creepy! The film doesn’t really explain the giant face-eating butterfly so I might need to track down a copy of the book. A cute dog in a church turns out to be a manifestation of the creature and kills a group of commandos, before stalking Ben Affleck.
The monster turns out to have a similar makeup to crude oil so gets eaten by bacteria designed to combat oil spills – which was handily on the army’s mobile lab.
(photo from Blastr)
The film has an entertaining and pretty creepy first half with a couple of very strong scenes (the oven one and the bit that starts with a noise like a steam train), but after the army arrives it starts to wanders along and not that much happens in the second half of the film which seems to drag on forever.
Like with most monster movies it is at it’s best when the protagonists don’t know what they are facing, after all it is pretty hard to be scared by an animated lake of petrol who thinks it is Satan.
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