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It could have been a heartbreaking and terrifying story of parent-child power dynamics, but “Skeletons in the Closet” ends up toothless.

Skeletons in the Closet

After his mother dies in a fire when he’s young, Seth becomes an odd teen that everyone suspects has dark secrets. When Seth’s father starts finding proof that those secrets are more dangerous than he could imagine, he has to choose whether to turn his son in or try and stop him himself. Let’s dig into 2001’s SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET, directed by K.C. Bascombe!

As I See It

Skeletons in the Closet really needed to be an actor-heavy film. This is not a knock on Jonathan Jackson; he does a really good job of seeming like he could be a serial killer, or he would fit in nicely alongside Michael Pitt in the remake of Funny Games.

The problem is this could have been a smash, cult hit if they blew two-thirds of the budget on an actor that would scare the literal shit out of you with his sadism.

Most slasher horror films or stories about psycho killers or serial killers don’t give us the nascent stages of the murderous agenda. It’s always the beginning of the sociopathy that gets focused on in the story, if at all. What this film does is establish a clearly ill teen that everyone should have (and sort of did) see coming that he was going to hurt others.

Yes, the origin story of him believing his father killed his mother is there, but it’s the push and pull of the father/son relationship that makes this unique.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t compelling enough, though there is a parallel to real-life horror and the post-tragedy identifying of murderous teens.

Treat Williams is a fine actor, and his straight-laced persona might work well for this role on paper. It just didn’t work for me on the screen. The final out was the biggest swing and miss in the history of casting (major hyperbole, of course), putting Linda Hamilton in a soft role. I can’t see her as anything except Sarah Connor.

Everyone thinks Seth is a killer until his dad finds proof of him being a killer, and then no one believes him. That sums up why a film with such a heavy premise didn’t work out.

Famous Faces

This is not the Linda Hamilton (Tina) you know. I mean, it is, but it’s not the type of character you know her by. She was a pioneer of the badass, action female along with Sigourney Weaver, and it’s hard to see her as anything but that. Limiting, I know, but when someone is so good at something, it becomes impossible to ignore.

Treat Williams (Will) took over Tom Berenger’s spot, starring in the sequels to The Substitute. He also plays Teamster boss Jimmy O’Donnell in Sergio Leone’s epic Once Upon A Time in America.

I LOVED NYPD Blue. I’m pretty sure I watched all 256 episodes. Of course, Detective Andy Sipowicz was the undeniable star of the show, but it was Gordon Clapp (Dan) as Detective Greg Medavoy, who was a bit bumbling, that kept the show grounded in humanity instead of procedural mundanity.

Schuyler Fisk (Robin) looks like a young Sissy Spacek, which makes sense because Spacek is her mother. Fisk was great in Orange County alongside the unparalleled Jack Black and Colin Hanks.

In an odd bit of Hollywood irony, Jonathan Jackson (Seth) played Kyle Reese in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and stars alongside THE Sarah Connor here.

Of Gratuitous Nature

Nothing sticks out, but I’ll take the opportunity to admonish the weak attempt at making Will a red herring. There was never any doubt about what was going on, and it just came across as incomplete.

Heartthrob

Schuyler Fisk easily catches your eye, much like her mother did. Schuyler seems full of life, even in a twisted horror film.

Ripe for a Remake

As I said, Seth’s role is one of those that can solidify a career. A new generation of screen psychopaths can be highlighted.

Spawns

No progeny to report.

Where to Watch

To the DVD bargain bin, you go! This DVD lured me back to my binge-buying days when Best Buy sold physical media. The cover of Skeletons in the Closet features a skull, mouth agape, and a ghostly kitchen knife that goes through the missing front teeth. It doesn’t align with the tone of the movie at all.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 2


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