Phantoms (1998)

We open with a scene reminiscent of The Shining — a small car on a winding road through the mountains.  Only without the ominous music and awesome cinematography.  On the other hand, the car contains 2 hot babes, neither of whom are Shelly Duvall.  So call it a draw at this point.

Lisa and Jennifer Pailey  drive into Jennifer’s home of Snowfield for Lisa to get some relaxation from the big city.  Jennifer, who has a medical practice there, says the town is seasonal, going form 4000 to 400 during the year.  The town seems deserted, though.  When they get to Jennifer’s house, her mother is dead on the floor.  And the phone is dead on the desk.

When the car won’t start, they walk the four blocks to the police station.  They find dead bodies there also, sadly not due to capital punishment.  They arm up and become even hotter.  They wander into a bakery where there are more dead people, but grizzlier — severed hands still rolling dough, and severed heads in the oven (OK, those were clearly suicides).  The good news is they find three living police officers there; the bad news is two of them are Liev Schreiber[1] and Ben Affleck.

Image 013While investigating a hotel, the third cop.who might as well have been wearing a red shirt rushes outside at the sound of a screech.  The others rush outside when he screeches, but all that is left is his gun spinning in the street.  Soon Liev is killed also by what appears to be a giant moth.

Peter O’Toole is brought into the picture as a reporter for one of those sleazy tabloids — you, know the ones that have 100% more credibility than the New York Times because of the NYT’s seething hatred and bias against anyone who doesn’t agree with their clustered, shrinking little band of followers.

It is about this time that I repeatedly fell asleep, was awakened by gunfire, then fell right back to sleep about 5 times until the credits rolled.  And I don’t really feel compelled to give it another try.

Image 009The beginning with Rose McGowan and Joanna Going was fine.  In fact the whole movie could have been them and it would have been better.  Ben Affleck has proven repeatedly that he is great behind the camera.  Who, for the love of God keeps putting him in front of the camera?  It’s got to be ego.  I didn’t see Steven Spielberg fighting no shark.

I never did entirely figure out his role here.  He is the sheriff of this, admittedly, small town at the age of 26.  Seems that he had time to go to college, get a law degree (I assume standards haven’t been lowered for that yet), get booted from the Secret Service and end up in Snowfield.  The picture might have benefited from having someone with a little more gravitas in the role. And not sporting that goofy coat and hat.

An officer with more experience might also have made firing Liev Schreiber one of his priorities.  They let this borderline mentally challenged resentful insubordinate deputy carry a gun?  He is such a drooling idiot before the attacks, that afterward, when I suppose he was possessed during one of my naps. there is no appreciable difference.

To be completely unfair, the intermittent portions I saw of the last half did not engage me at all.  The most telling assessment:  There is no Phantoms II.


  • [1] Schreiber is a good actor, just not who I’m looking for to protect me in a disaster.
  • If Jennifer was making a living as a doctor in a  town of 400 people, there must have been something wrong before the killer moths showed up and killed people and their sweaters.

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