(US/UK - 2018)
Directed by Tim Hunter. Written by Jerry Rapp. Cast: Nicolas Cage, Robin Tunney, Marc Blucas, Ernie Lively, Kassia Conway, Jacque Gray, Kimberly Hittleman, Bill Boldender, Barry Minoff, Jason Wixom, Atticus Worman-Pope. (R, 103 mins)
We're a little over halfway through February and LOOKING GLASS is already Nicolas Cage's second VOD release of the year. Unlike January's excellent MOM AND DAD, LOOKING GLASS is the kind of bland, forgettable, perfunctory clock-punch that typifies the bulk of Redbox-era Cage. It's hard telling what drew him to the project other than its setting might've stirred memories of his cult classic desert noir RED ROCK WEST, John Dahl's terrific 1993 thriller that ended up premiering on cable only to become a big word-of-mouth hit in video stores. It could be the involvement of screenwriter Matthew Wilder*, who wrote Paul Schrader's DOG EAT DOG, one of Cage's better recent films, though at some point between LOOKING GLASS' announcement in the trades and its release, Wilder's shared writing credit with Jerry Rapp (GUTSHOT STRAIGHT) vanished and now he's one of about 30 credited producers, with Rapp getting sole credit for the screenplay (though Wilder is still credited on IMDb). Ray (Cage) and Maggie (Robin Tunney) are a married couple still grieving the loss of their young daughter in a vague accident that may have involved a fall, Maggie's substance abuse, and Ray's infidelity. They look to heal in the dumbest way possible: by packing up and driving across the country to a small Arizona town where Ray bought a motel he found for sale on Craigslist. The locals are odd but welcoming, including gregarious trucker Tommy (Ernie Lively), who always has a different young girl in tow and always requests room 10. The previous owner, Ben (Bill Bollender) abruptly left town and Ray has no way to contact him. He's got some questions, especially once he discovers a secret crawlspace in the pool maintenance room that leads a two-way mirror that looks right into room 10, which seems to be the most requested room for another guest, mysterious prostitute and professional dominatrix Cassie (Kassia Conway), who states "10's a peach...I'll take 10."
*(note: in the interest of full disclosure, I was once Facebook friends with Matthew Wilder, but a 2012 disagreement over Jean-Luc Godard's FILM SOCIALISME resulted in him unfriending and blocking me, followed by his immediate creation of the hashtag #attackfilmsocialismeanddie. I have had no contact with him since)