The first TV I ever bought more than a decade ago is DED! I am so bummed out. Dear was playing Banjo Tooie when all of a sudden it just went dark. It fought valiantly and came on for about five minutes the next day, but alas. When I bought that TV I didn't own a credit card, so I walked into Best Buy with more than 2,000-money in cash and let me tell you, that is quite a feeling! Fare thee well, old friend! Sigh... anyways, let's talk about...
Let me get this out of the way right at the jump... Ben Affleck IS da bomb in Phantoms, yo. Anyways... This movie was brought to attention when I learned that the look of the Silent Hill video game was clearly inspired by the book this movie is based on. Abandoned town? Check! Cars just left on the road? Check! Snow? You better believe that's a check!
Two sisters are driving into the remote town and they're surprised to find the place empty. When they get to their house they notice there's food being made, but the housekeeper isn't there. After a quick search, they find her body in the kitchen. With no phones working, they make the trek to the bakery and are in for quite a surprise that made me jump. Next, they go to the police station to find the deputy dead as well. He's not bleeding, but there are spent bullet casings near his body. That's when the power goes out. While walking around in the dark they're eventually confronted by the sheriff and two deputies who came to investigate. From there, the group tries to stay alive while attempting to figure out the mystery of the town.
For the life of me, I don't understand why this movie isn't looked upon more fondly. I watched when I was much younger and thought it was OK. I had read the book before and I remember liking that more and was disappointed it wasn't like the book. But now that I'm much older, I've forgotten a lot of the details of the Dean Koontz story and I have nothing else to judge it against. Removed from the book, it's just a good horror movie. The setting is fantastic, the mystery is engaging, the feeling of dread isn't just felt by the characters, but you watching at home.
Speaking of the characters, they all manage to stand out in different ways. Ben Affleck is really good as the sheriff and his dynamic with a deputy named Stu, played by Liev Schreiber is awesome. Stu is such a slimy character; laughing inappropriately, leering at Rose McGowan and constantly making off color comments is awesome to watch. He's such a creep, but he plays it so well. They're trapped in this haunted town and he's making enemies with everyone, especially the only surviving humans. Then when he comes back it's even better. It's a fun dynamic watching Stu pick at every single one of them while playing the sleaze ball to perfection.
And you know what? This movie is actually scary. In addition to the creepy town, the movie utilizes sound extremely well. From footsteps, the weird noises the thing makes when communicating and little drops of water, they're all there to add to the mood. Plus it uses visuals extremely well. There are incredibly tense moments where the thing is just standing there not reacting. It's so off putting because you know, and the characters know, this thing could spring into action and kill them so many ways in a matter of seconds. But it stands there, watching as a way to let them know that it's in control at all times.
It's a lot better than what reviews say. Like I said, I had seen it before and I knew when certain things were going to happen, but I still felt anxious at some scenes. The way it chooses to manifest and confront a different group makes for one very chilling visual.
I think the one complaint I have about it would be how the movie describes the monster. It treats the thing as if it were an animal that all of a sudden managed to get human intelligence. That's all well and good but the book takes a bit of a different route. I think at one point it almost confirms that the entity is Nyarlthotep. The movie alludes to it on one occasion when Peter O'Toole's Timothy Flyte refers to the thing as chaos. As you all know, one of things that Nyarlthotep is known as is the "Crawling Chaos." It's an odd choice to go a different way considering Dean Koontz also wrote the screenplay.
I really think you can't go wrong watching this movie. It has a few hokey 90's things going on like silly dialgoue but it's really good. The effects aren't the greatest, but it's effective and manages some really good scenes and scares. Plus, Liev Schreiber rules.