A Dean R. Koontz adaptation that’s nowhere near as horrible as it’s reputed to be, Phantoms has actually gotten better with age — at worst, it seems like just another late ’90s Dimension cheapie, full of good intentions if not the know-how (or budget) to see its lofty ambitions through. Joanna Going and Rose McGowan play sisters (and they actually look like sisters) who journey to the sleepy town of Snowfield, Colorado only to find it deserted save for a handful of gruesome dead bodies; they soon team up with the local sheriff (Ben Affleck) and his deputies (Liev Schreiber and Nicky Katt) and uncover an ancient demonic evil (or something) that might’ve been responsible for every unexplained mass disappearance in history. There’s plenty evidence of post-production tinkering; you get a chance that the Weinsteins looked at this and said, “It’s not scary, so at least make it LOUD” — the sound design is one of the most obtrusive in the history of horror cinema, with even the simple act of someone taking off their coat sounding like it’s a tidal wave. Also, if John Carpenter were just a little more ornery, he could probably sue for some sort of copyright infringement — both The Thing and Prince of Darkness are all over this movie in tone, content and design. Still, Phantoms has something that makes it a quaint little charmer, and Peter O’Toole’s supporting performance as a quack scientist definitely has a little to do with it.
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