Any fans of View Askiew films will know that Phantoms is Kevin Smith's fave jab against friend and cast regular Ben Affleck. In the commentary for Mallrats, Affleck, hot off of Armageddon and a super star, is introduced as "star of Phantom's" Ben Affleck. In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jason Mewes repeatedly mentions how Affleck was "Da Bomb" in Phantoms, once to the character Affleck plays in Chasing Amy, and once to Affleck playing himself in the Hollywood segment. Even Matt Damon chimes in, reminding the Ben'ster of his bad career moves, trumping them all with Reindeer Games, to which Affleck replies "Dude, that's just cold."
Well, so Phantoms may not have been Affleck and Co.'s personal fave of his career, but if you made me choose between Pearl Harbor, Gigli, Forces of Nature or Phantoms? Well, the choice is clear.
Phantom's is based on the novel by Dean Koontz, and actually does a pretty decent job of adhering to the story's elements, which is probably it's biggest pitfall, since the scope of the villian is something best left to the written word and the reader's imagination.
Dr. Jennifer Pailey (Going) and her sister Lisa (McGowan) are returning to the tiny town of Snowfield, Colorado. When they arrive atJennifer's house, Lisa discovers the body of the maid, an obvious victim of a homicide, and the two race to the police station only to find it empty. As a matter of fact, the whole town is abandoned, save for the occasional gruesome remains the two come across on their search. As night comes, the power goes on and off intermittently, Jennifer's car won't start, and they are trapped in Snowfield with no phone or radio contact, until Sheriff Bryce Hammond (Affleck) and his two deputys, Wargle (Schrieber) and Shanning (Nicky Katt) return from what was a false accident report just outside of town.
The whole group form a search party to try and figure out how an entire town disappeared in under a few hours, but the culprit suddenly makes itself apparent and it is not of this Earth....or is it?
Phantoms is a pretty creepy movie, especially in the first act, but, as in the novel, it takes a turn toward 50's Sci-Fi with the introduction of the "Ancient Enemy", a sort of cross between the blob and a big glowing moth. Like I mentioned before, some things are best left to the imagination, and the protagonist in this movie is one of those things. Having read the book years before the seeing Phantoms, I was prepared for failure on all cylinders, but I have to admit, it really wasn't bad, all things considered. There were the obligatory plot trimming devices like combining the Deputy Wargler character with a serial killer character from the novel, to add that loose cannon element, but ultimately sacrifices were few and the adaptation was pretty much spot on, save the films obviously sequel hungry ending.
Extras are what you would expect from a major studio release of a less than well recieved film. There's a trailer, cast and crew stuff, and that's all. Oh, and it's all packaged in a Scream ripoff case that is best ignored.
So if you've read the book, it's nice to see it come to life, just shut your eyes for the last ten minutes and make your own monster. For those who haven't read the book, I can confidently say that as far as 1990's horror is concerned, you could do MUCH worse than Phantoms, so give it a look.