Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It Came From Netflix-Phantoms(1998)

By Eric Polk-
On the level, I'm not a huge Dean Koontz fan. I don't know if its his style of writing or the fact I'm not inspired by his readings but, to me, he's not Stephen King's heir apparent. Nevertheless, the author has had a few of his books translated for the big screen and this 1998 film directed by Joe Chappelle is one of them.

The film stars a few people with solid horror pedigrees in Jami Gertz, Rose McGowan, and Liev Schreiber not to mention legendary Peter O' Toole and your new Batman and mine, BEN AFFLECK!!! Ugh, here come the 'Ben Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms, yo!' Well, he was a bomb alright!

In a small ski resort village nestled in Colorado,  two sisters find no one around but a few corpses. Perfect for someone like me but for them not so much. After finding more corpses, including one found inside a kitchen appliance, they are discovered by Daredevil...err...Sheriff Affleck who is haunted by the memory of the accidental shooting of a boy during his days in the FBI.

At a nearby hotel, a clue is found, a note mentioning the name Timothy Flyte(bum-bump). One of the fellow sheriffs goes cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and, after a giant moth invasion, Affleck has Alfred search for Mr. Timothy Flyte who just happens to star in both one of the raunchiest films and one of the worst comedies of all-time.

Turns out Timothy is a British academic who theorized the Ancient Enemy, an entity he describes as "chaos in the flesh" that wiped out the Mayas and the Roanoke Island colonists. Joined by an Army commando unit, Flyte accompanies a third of the commando group to investigate with him the only survivor of an attack by a creature in the form of a dog that converted the others in his group. The Jehovah Witnesses are relentless these days.

Revealed to actually an Earth-based amoebic life form that mimics its absorbed victims while gaining their knowledge, the Enemy creates Phantoms as temporary detachments for it to act through before absorbing them back into it. Furthermore, due to its victims' thoughts about it, the Enemy has ultimately perceived itself as a god and had arranged everything so Flyte can assist the creature in revealing its existence to the world.

This movie is all over the place in terms of quality. Ben Affleck sucks royally, Jami Gertz and Rose McGowan are essentially window dressing, adding nothing to the story while Peter O'Toole could have read his grocery list and still outshines his co-stars. Jami and Rose disappear with the arrival of O'Toole along with Affleck's interest. There are some awesome gore scenes, however, and Liev Schreiber is rather interesting as a man possessed. Overall, this film had great potential to perhaps break Dean Koontz out of his cult following and into the mainstream. It just didn't get over that hurdle.


Bob R Milne said...

This is one of those rare adaptations I enjoyed just as much as the book. Not perfect, not by a long shot, but a fun bit of horror.

Jennifurla said...

What a cast!