Phantoms (Joe Chappelle, 1998)
[originally posted 16May2000]
Chappelle gets his first real big-budget break with this one. And it’s a bomb. Maybe I’m remembering wrong—admittedly, I read Phantoms in the middle of a major Dean Koontz glut right after I glommed onto him in college—but I don’t remember the book being this bad… so it’s gotta be the director.
A few tips:
1. I know there’s a standard clause in Hollywood contracts now saying that either Ben Affleck or Matt Damon must be in every film made in Hollywood until they’re dead. But Ben Affleck is not old enough to be a town sherriff.
2. While the inclusion of Rose McGowan in a film is usually a good thing, it would be nice if her character had a reason for existence.
3. Peter O’Toole is best when playing a drunk. I just can’t buy him sober.
This particular bag of mixed nuts does have some decent special effects, and Liev Schreiber may be the most underused and effective creepy character actor since Peter Lorre went mainstream, but neither of these is enough to save this ultimately silly film. Chappelle will go back to directing the last installments of long-dead series (he was responsible for both Halloween 666 and Hellraiser IV), Liev Schrieber will remain in obscurity, O’Toole will go back to playing drunk playboys, Affleck will continue to write overrated scripts, McGowan will keep being doe-eyed, and everyone involved will forget this movie existed. **