Elemental protecting-the-nest melodrama about an innocent chick who brings home a bad egg. The family tensions are believably drawn and ably acted (William Petersen, Amy Brenneman, Reese Witherspoon), and Mark Wahlberg frowns fiercely and sweet-talks dulcetly as the two-faced psychotic. The finale aspires to something on the scale of Straw Dogs, if not quite the scale of Night of the Living Dead, but director James Foley, emboldened to some true nastiness with the family dog and a dispensable bit-player, retreats at last into comfortable conventions: every family member gets a moment of glory, none gets too badly hurt or humiliated, and there is no limit to the number of times the villain can put a gun to someone's head without pulling the trigger. The suspense is excruciating. Or anyhow something is. (1996) — Duncan Shepherd
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