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Film / The Glass House

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The Glass House is a 2001 American Thriller film.

Two siblings, 16-year-old Ruby (Leelee Sobieski) and 11-year-old Rhett (Trevor Morgan), lose their parents to a fatal car accident. They are taken in by two of their parents' friends, Terry (Stellan Skarsgård) and Erin Glass (Diane Lane). But strange behavior from the pair causes Ruby to slowly realize that she and her brother may have unknowingly walked into a gingerbread house.


This film provides examples of:

  • Batman Gambit: Near the end of the film Terry anticipates the kids will try to escape in his Jaguar, so he sabotages the car's brakes, pretends to fall into a drunken sleep, and leaves the car keys where they can easily grab them. They nearly fall for it, but Ruby realizes it's all a bit too convenient and guesses there's something wrong with the car.
  • Bedmate Reveal: A rather creepy version. Ruby is kept in a drug-induced sleep after she starts to catch on to her evil guardians' plot. While this is going on, her foster mother ODs on pain medication, out of guilt over what she's doing to Ruby. Cue Ruby finally waking up, to find her foster mother lying next to her in the bed, stone dead.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The title refers to main setting of the film, a house with lots of glass incorporated into the architecture, and the fact the house is owned by Terry and Erin Glass.
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  • Financial Abuse: This is basically the plot. The siblings Ruby and Rhett were adopted by Erin and Terry, the best friends of their dead parents... only to be targeted for death so the "new parents" can collect the kids's HUGE inheritance.
  • Functional Addict: It's revealed Erin is this; she's addicted to medication she's been stealing from the hospital where she works, but she is mostly able to appear stable and keep on top of her job. However, she begins unraveling towards the end of the film and becomes an Addled Addict; the hospital also becomes aware of her addiction and she's promptly fired.
  • Happy Marriage Charade: Erin and Terry appear to be a happy, loving couple, but Ruby overhears them having some aggressive arguments and Terry tells Ruby that being married to Erin can get lonely (while also making subtle sexual advances towards teenage Ruby). By the end, they can barely stand to be around each other, both blaming the other for their plans falling apart, although Terry is still devastated when he realizes Erin has fatally overdosed.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A pretty spectacular version. Terry tries to trick Ruby and Rhett into escaping with a car with a sabotaged brake line, but the loan sharks he's indebted to show up and drag him into the car themselves.
  • Illegal Guardian: The childless couple Erin and Terry Glass take in 16-year-old Ruby and 11-year-old Rhett after their parents are killed in an auto accident. Ruby eventually learns that the Glasses are after the children's $4 million trust fund. Terry is in hock to loan sharks, and Erin uses drugs. They also may have been involved in the accident.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Ruby uses the loan sharks to take Terry out of the picture once she realizes how dangerous he is. Between Terry sabotaging an 'escape car' and the mobsters dragging him away, they end up eliminating each other.
  • Pervert Dad: After adopting the siblings, Terry Glass, whose wife Erin is frequently depressed and hooked up on painkillers, starts to signal to his new stepdaughter Ruby (who's 16, by the way) that he's interested in her in that way. Ruby is completely freaked out by this, and this leads her to uncover further wrongdoings on the part of the Glasses.
  • Pool Scene: Ruby takes a night swim at the pool in Terry's house, and is startled when she suddenly catches him staring at her. He says he isn't used to having kids making noise at night, but the way he stares at her as she climbs out of the pool clearly betrays his inappropriate intentions.
  • Pottery Barn Poor: Despite living in a gorgeous Los Angeles mansion and being surrounded by gorgeous stuff and expensive vehicles, the Glasses are actually broke and in debt to mobsters.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: Terry sabotages the car, which is also how the mobsters get rid of him at the end.
  • Symbolic Glass House: The Trope Namer is the Glasses' enormous, many-windowed Los Angeles mansion that is on a cliffside and where Ruby and Rhett move after their parents die to live with their new guardians, the creepy Terry who makes sexual advances towards the sixteen-year-old Ruby and his pill-popping wife Erin. They both also murdered Ruby and Rhett's parents and intended to kill them in order to benefit financially from their deaths.
  • Villain Ball: Terry and Erin probably could have gotten away with their plans much more easily if they had been less overtly creepy, such as Terry making passes at Ruby, and put a little more effort into making the siblings happy rather than suspicious.