Going Fine, Only for a While
Having picked up her younger sister Lisa (Rose McGowan - Scream) from busy LA Jennifer Pailey (Joanna Going - Chasing a Dream) plans to take her home to Snowfield, a quiet town even in the summer let alone in the winter. But on their arrival it is clear something is not right as it appears quieter than normal and then they discover that almost everyone has been killed. The only survivors appear to be Sheriff Bryce Hammond (Ben Affleck - Chasing Amy) and his deputies including the nervy Stu (Liev Schreiber). As they set out to investigate what has happened government officials call on Dr. Timothy Flyte (Peter O'Toole), a university professor turned tabloid writer for his expertise and comes up with a deeply concerning conclusion surrounding what has wiped out the town.
So you enter a town and not only is it spookily quiet but when you get home you find a dead body in your house and then you discover more residents are dead what do you do? Well in my book you get the flock out of there but then that doesn't make for an entertaining movie does it so instead with a couple of other survivors you go all Nancy Drew and set about investigating. But whilst for some that will be fine and will enjoy this big screen adaptation of Dean Koontz's novel it immediately makes it ordinary for me.
Now in fairness director Joe Chappelle has done a good job of setting the movie up as when Lisa and Jennifer go walk abouts around the ghost town it is quite creepy. There is an ominous atmosphere hanging over the silent town where cars don't work, phones are dead and so on. Plus he throws in some jump moments from the first dead body being discovered to seeing hands still holding a rolling pin but with no body attached. Even a phone suddenly ringing, remember that all the phones were dead a minute ago, works well.
Unfortunately after an ominous introduction it gets both silly and cliche and a struggle to stay interested. That sort of comes when Sheriff Hammond and his deputies show up as Ben Affleck in a cowboy hat is a funny sight almost as funny as his performance which doesn't work. In fact whilst Rose McGowan and Joanna Going are attractive they are not given a great deal nor do Nicky Katt and Liev Schreiber. The only one who seems to try and bring some character to their character is Peter O'Toole who has fun playing an eccentric professor turned tabloid hack.
What this all boils down to is that for a good time watch the first 20 to 30 minutes of "Phantoms" but as soon as those 20 minutes are over go and find another movie as after that it gets messy.