Home > Horror >


Phantoms (1998)

January. 23,1998
| Horror Thriller Science Fiction

In the peaceful town of Snowfield, Colorado something evil has wiped out the community. And now, its up to a group of people to stop it, or at least get out of Snowfield alive.


Watch Trailer


Similar titles



Hey look, if slow-mo machine gun fire an unexplained random "supernatural stuff" is yer thing... then go for it.I got sucked in by the cast - but O'Toole is laughable and Affleck shows why he has is a success - good looks and good one liners - otherwise no talent.Shreiber is great, but after that this is a total big hollywood bit of nonsense. If you don't need a real plot and like 'explosions and stuff'.. its fer you.


PHANTOMS is a film of two halves; kind of like from FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. Except that in Tarantino's crime/vampire flick both halves are good and gel together well. The horror/sci-fi aspects of PHANTOMS do not go so well together. The first, horror-orientated half is expertly done and one of the creepiest things I've sat through in recent years. The second half descends into science fiction territory and falls apart with lame explanations (unsurprising considering that it's based on a story by overrated writer Dean Koontz), too much action, too many loose ends and a real let-down of a climax, followed by a twist that makes absolutely no sense to anyone.This films would get a top rating if based solely on the first half, right up until the military come in and ruin everything. The pacing is slow but steady, building up unexplained incident after unexplained incident, throwing in a handful of clues and lots of scary tension-building which really works for a change. Lighting, sets, sound effects, and music are just right in creating a creepy atmosphere of suspense and unease which, when combined with the clichéd but effective plot set-up of a place deserted for no reason, makes for unmissable viewing. Every minute something new crops up to entertain the viewer, with weird phone calls, distant voices, gruesomely drained corpses, mysterious piles of metal and the like to entrance the viewer.The second half introduces far too many extraneous characters who just serve as cannon fodder for the film's enemy, which is some kind of huge underground liquid creature which absorbs the intelligence of the people it eats (gee, where have we heard that one before?). Scenes are ripped off from the likes of ALIENS as soldiers investigate deserted buildings and find themselves picked off one by one in repetitive "body snatching" moments familiar from scores of other recent movies. Whilst I did like the Lovecraftian undertones of the giant, godlike underground monster nothing much is made of it and it's killed off far too easily. Once again the creature is animated by unconvincing CGI effects work (which really has come a long way in recent years, in comparison to films made just three years later it looks rubbishy and fake) which dampens the effect. The physical effects by Steve Johnson and the KNB effects group are pretty decent though.The casting isn't bad and in fact Peter O'Toole is the only reason to watch the second half of the film, as he commands it with his presence as a spooky writer of ancient theories. Ben Affleck takes the male lead as the heroic sheriff, but has little to do other than point his gun and shoot (in fact the only characterisation he gets is an interlude when he reveals that he accidentally shot a kid with a toy gun once, which itself is ripped off from DIE HARD). The two female characters are underdeveloped as with the rest of the central characters although Rose McGowan does get a few kooky moments to herself. Liev Schrieber has probably the most interesting role as a sleazy, slightly mad deputy sheriff but he gets killed off early on (as is usually the case with interesting characters in B-movies). I was delighted to see screen veteran Bo Hopkins appearing although it's little more than a cameo as an FBI man.It's difficult to see what kind of audience the makers of this film were hoping for. Certainly with all the gory effects of melted faces, decapitated heads and hands, and weird creatures it's not really suitable viewing for family members. Thrill-seeking teenage crowds are likely to be put off by the slow and effective first half so ironically will miss the more action-orientated second half which is tailor-made for them. Horror fans similarly will find this an underdeveloped film that's not nearly gory enough for a modern horror yarn. I can only say that it starts off a lot better than the same year's SPHERE, before degenerating into much the same dull kind of movie.


If you have never read a Dean Koontz Horror Novel this Movie will likely not inspire such wantings. Scripted by the Book's Author this adaptation of his own work is full of it. Full of clichés, uninspired Acting, mediocre SFX, unfunny funny lines and references (Patsy Cline's I Fall to Pieces is heard while you see, you guessed it), well that's enough, but there's more.The Cast seems to be standing around a lot with blank stares waiting for someone, anyone, to say Action, or something. Speaking of Action, early on there is a Scene that telegraphs just how lame and misdirected this is. A "Thing" shows up and we have our three Leads, standing shoulder to shoulder pumping hundreds of bullets at a window. It looks like something out of completely different Movie, or Genre for that matter.So the warning comes early, and it is right on. Nothing that happens after-wards is remotely scary, interesting, or worth your time. This is not the worst Horror/Sci-Fi Movie ever made but it tries really hard to be a contender.


Dr. Jennifer Pailey (Going) brings her younger sister Lisa (McGowan) to her small Colorado town in an attempt to keep her out of trouble. When they arrive they find everyone in town dead minus a few others including Sheriff Bryce (Affleck) and a handful of others. Fearing an outbreak of some kind, the small band of people tries to find logic and a common thread. One victim has scrawled the name Timothy Flyte in blood on the wall. Flyte (O'Toole), is a tabloid writer who wrote a story about an ancient evil that comes up from the depths of the earth every 100 years or so, and devours anything in it's way. Flyte, and the Army is called in and the entity takes on the form of the people's fear. Lisa calls it the Devil and now it thinks it is and it seems intent on killing everyone. Dean Koontz adapts his own novel into this screenplay and Director Joe Chappelle makes the first 20 minutes incredibly tight with jump scares and thick atmosphere. The girls walking around a dead town in fright is simply chilling. Horror fans will enjoy many elements at work here including some cool monster designs, gore and even suspense. The cast is solid with Peter O'Toole giving the picture a sense of class. Elements of the story could have made this very cheesy but Chappelle manages to steer the film away from that. The middle drags a little and there is an unnecessary and stupid final twist that threatens the films effectiveness. By far, the most chilling scene in the film is when Flyte is going to meet the being face to face. It is brilliantly executed and chilling as hell! This memorable moment almost deserves to be in a better film it is that good. 'Phantoms' is a fun and entertaining monster/creature film.