How can a movie about two people trapped in a high tech little hovel possibly make a good movie? i hear you cynics cry. Those of you who ask this have clearly not actually seen Panic Room because it is actually one of the best thrillers i have seen for a long time.
The plot concerns a mother and daughter who are placed in a deadly game of cat and mouse when three intruders break into their new home. They decide to hole up in the panic room of the title, an impregnable fortress which unfortunately, is what the three criminals have their sights set on. What follows is two hours of seriously tense thriller as the three criminals try to get the pair out of the panic room, whilst at the same time, it's occupants are trying to find some way to rid themselves of their uninvited guests.
The casting on this film is quite superb and the characters themselves add to the tension. Mother Meg Altman is ably played by Jodie Foster who plays her character very convincingly with a real sense of desperation and fear. Her daughter (played by Kristen Stewart) throws another element into the mix with her illness making her a ticking time bomb trapped with Foster. The three criminals are also superb and their different personalities work excellently together. Burnham (Forrest Whitaker) is the security expert trying to break into his own work and the brains at work to bring the whole thing top a safe conclusion. His efforts are hampered by the mysterious Raoul, who doesn't seem to care and looks constantly intimidating. The criminals are rounded off by Junior (Jared Leto), the kid with visions on a get-rich-quick scheme that quickly turns into something that he finds difficult to handle.
The tension is consistently played up as the 5 characters move about the house coming up with ploys and then there follows a pulse-pounding race by their opposite side to prevent the others plans. It's very intense stuff!
The film itself is typical Fincher fare with some beautifully creative roaming camera work and a very dark atmosphere, but perhaps where this film falls down is in it's DVD form.
These days, any DVD that doesn't appear on 2 discs is shunned and this may be so with Panic Room. It's extras are almost non-existent and it lacks any cast commentaries, outtakes, deleted scenes, or frankly anything of interest.
This package is let down by a lack of DVD bonuses so you may be better off with good old VHS. However, don't let this discourage you from the film itself which is nothing short of stunning, just consider your format carefully.