13 August 2005 | Bogmeister
Beware that Thing which Lives Forever
Inappropriately titled, like the book itself by Koontz, Phantoms is a surprisingly effective monster movie, especially in the first half. The best monsters are the ones which are very difficult to kill; in addition, these types of monsters can destroy fragile human beings with ease. This is what is confronted here, with humans little more than insects to be crushed and absorbed. Of course, certain insects can cause a lot of damage when they put their minds to it. The atmosphere in the first half hour is very eerie and there's a lot of mystery. You have pretty much an empty town, a couple of young women just arrived, and a couple of bodies - no answers. That gloom & foreboding of doom may not be too difficult to create, but we hardly see it anymore, even in horror films. Even if one has seen this film, however, they may be compelled to watch that first half hour again just to get that sense of doom all over. When some cops show up, things get even worse. Then an entire army shows up and, of course, we think things are under control now, but it makes no difference. At least the pic is consistent with its menace.
This picture was virtually ignored on release and I don't think video has helped it much. When the monster is revealed, it obviously takes away all the suspense built up earlier, but it's still creepy going (without revealing too much, the monster is a more advanced version of a famous one from the fifties; think also along the lines of "The Thing" remake by Carpenter in '82). Writer Koontz was involved in the adaptation, which always seems to help. Actor O'Toole appears around the midway point as the only so-called expert on the creature, all based on conjecture, of course. He lends a bit of gravity to it all, tho I suppose he's slumming here in a 'typical' fright flic. The rest of the younger cast do fine, with Affleck a bit irritating as usual. I'm not sure what Schreiber was aiming at, but he was almost as creepy as the creature. There's a bit of a twist ending, which wasn't really necessary.