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Panic Room Review

By Shawn McKenzie 04/15/2002

Warning!  Possible spoilers!

Is it possible that a movie geek like me can be such a big fan of a director that I am asked to suspend too much disbelief?

I thought that might be the case with Panic Room.  I still do in some instances in the movie, but the genius of David Fincher is that his movies force you to have to examine it over and over.  I'm still doing this with Panic Room.

I probably don't have to tell you what this movie is about, since it has already made over $74 million in the box office in the last three weeks.  That is more than the $48 million take of Fincher's The Game and the $37 million take of his last movie Fight Club.  There is a good chance that it will out-gross the $100 million take of my personal favorite Fincher film Seven (I know Fincher also did Alien 3, but most true Fincher fans ignore that movie and its $55 million take.)  I will give you a brief summary though for continuity purposes.

Jodie Foster plays Meg Altman, a woman who is newly separated from her husband and living with her daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart.)  They buy a huge brownstone townhouse that just happens to have a special room in it called a panic room.  The panic room is a fully functional, thick steel-lined room intended to be used in the case of intruders.  Well, intruders just happen to arrive the very first night.  Meg and Sarah spend most of the movie in the panic room trying to survive.

My colleague Reggie MacDaniel (check out his site) had a few questions after seeing the movie.  Among them were:  Why did Meg need such a big house for just her and her daughter?  Why did the intruders break into the house on the first night they were there?

Plus, several people (including me before I saw the film) had some questions just from watching the trailer:  Why didn't she call the police?  Why didn't she just give them what they wanted?  Why does she turn the police away when they finally do arrive?

The thing I had forgotten about David Fincher films is that they make you want to watch them several times to answer your own questions.  I had asked similar questions for his past movies, just like I am asking them about this one.  All of the above questions are answered, but they are done so quickly that if you blink you might miss them.  For example:  Why did Meg need such a big house for just her and her daughter?  That question is answered when one of the burglars comments to Sarah that her mom is rich.  She replies, "Dad is rich.  Mom is just mad."  What that means is that Meg is so bitter about the separation that she decides to get the most expensive house that her ex will pay for out of revenge.  What better place than one with a supposedly useless and frivolous "panic room?"  I'll let you catch the answers to the other questions.

The one thing about Panic Room that keeps me from giving this a perfect score is the ending.  I won't give it away, but one of the things I've come to expect from a David Fincher movie is that cool twist ending we get from his earlier movies.  Maybe after repeated viewings (you know I am snagging this up when it comes out on DVD), I will see something in the ending I didn't see before.  It wouldn't be the first time with a Fincher movie for me.

Check out the book that the movie is based on:

Also available is the original score by Howard Shore:

Buy these items at

Ratings System:


Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

Wait until it comes out on video...

Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...

Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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