Phantoms (1998)

PHANTOMS is the new Dean Koontz crap-fest, about a remote Colorado 
town where some 700 people have disappeared, save for a few things 
left behind:  a body here, a body part there, a conspicuous pile of 
"undigestibles" (buttons, watches, pacemakers, etc.) over in the 
corner.  Two sisters (Joanna Going and Rose McGowan) make the grim 
discovery, after arriving in the empty town.  One's a doctor, so 
she suspects an epidemic and they both begin poking around, instead 
of immediately heading for the hills.  (They'd have to hoof it, 
though, as neither theirs nor any other car around will start.)  As 
night falls, they're joined by the local law (Ben Affleck presi-
ding) and they continue to poke around, though now accompanied by 
periodic gunfire.  (They shoot at stuff.)  Later that evening, 
they're joined by a tabloid-employed, Army-escorted expert on mass 
disappearances who happens to look exactly like Peter O'Toole.  And 
they continue to poke around.  And more gunfire happens.  And, 
soon, we begin to learn exactly who or what is menacing the town 
and causing these actors to take themselves so seriously.

Despite dim dialogue and even lousier lighting, the first half of 
PHANTOMS *does* pull off a few well-wrought frights.  (My neck 
hairs might've risen to the occasion, had I not been walking to and 
fro, asking the management of the Cary Imperial about an audio 
problem that, to these ears, sounded like a speaker with a blood-
soaked blanket thrown over it.)  Things get scary in a different 
way in the second hour, with cruddy CGI effects and increasingly 
insipid plotting.  (I liked the sheriff's snap conclusions about 
the invading menace.  He's seen his share of "Star Trek" episodes.)  
You'll yawn, you'll wince, but if you walk out early, you'll miss 
Liev Schreiber's return.  (He first appears as an intense deputy.  
In later scenes, he's back, hamming it up as "one of them.")  Oh, 
and at the end, there *is* one huge, helluva hearty laugh to be 
had, at O'Toole, standing in the snow and delivering a monologue 
to... an open manhole.  Friends, now *that's* entertainment.  Di-
rected by Joe Chappelle (HALLOWEEN 6) and scripted by Koontz, from 
his 1983 novel.  (Rated "R"/~95 min.)

Grade: D-   

Copyright 1998 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: First King, Now Koontz

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