Doctor Sleep

Emmy says:
A wonderfully crafted film with great actors and stunning music. Loved the visuals especially the long travelling shots in the Overlook. I loved it. 10/10.

Jeff says:
Wow. Just wow. I don’t know what to say about this one – and I’m not usually lost for words. A spectacular sequel to both a movie and a book that had very different endings and story styles, while being an adaptation of the book that was the sequel to the book alone, and yet manages to tread its own path in a well acted, well shot, well directed tale that I honestly can’t imagine being done any other way. The recreation of the original Overlook was impressive, and the homage shots that you know were coming were better and more subtle than you might expect. I’ll be thinking about this one for a while. 10/10.

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IT Chapter Two

Emmy says:
A remarkable continuation of the story. The visual design elements to represent altered reality were effective. The changes to the backstory were still plausible and worked for the screen. Supporting characters were used well, and didn’t detract from the main story (as they sometimes did in the book). I feel like there was a lot I might have missed, so I probably want to see this again. 9/10.

Jeff says:
Stephen King is known for being unfilmable. There are some movies that somewhat prove this wrong, but they all have one thing in common: they don’t exactly stick to the written page precisely. The best adaptations of King’s work take the idea, atmosphere and intent of the written version and does something similar that works better for the visual medium. This is what happened here. Even know what happens in the books, I was tense and anxious for the characters throughout. I felt a pervasive dread in many of the set pieces. The parts where the story differs from the book were effective and still felt like they fit. My only complaint is that some things in the book were cut, which I understand, but it meant some of the related material that was left in didn’t make much sense as they weren’t properly resolved. Still, a great end to the tale. 9/10.

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Dolores Claiborne

Emmy says:
A wonderful interpretation of the book. Beautifully acted by Kathy Bates. Loved the settings and the editing choices. 9/10.

Jeff says:
A remarkable film, faithful to the story but not to the novel. The structure of the story changed; the attitude shown by Christopher Plummer’s character does not appear on the page anywhere; and the daughter is only referenced in the book. Having said that, the story is the same and all the key details are there with the emotional impact they need even in the trimmed-for-a-movie version. Excellent acting, and some innovative flashback transitions for a mid-90’s film. Astonishing. 9/10.

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The Langoliers

Emmy says:
Loved the actors portrayal of these characters. Very good translation from page to screen. The CGI is really dated. 7/10.

Jeff says:
I remember watching this movie/mini-series back when it came out. Even then the CG was dodgy. Apart from that, though, the story was compelling and the characters were faithful to the written story. I remembered (and loved) Bronson Pinochet from ‘Perfect Strangers’ and so his casting as Toomey was at the same time weird, brilliant, and on point. I still find the pallid fever-sweat look off-putting, but it works so well. Stephen King’s own cameo is somewhat amusing. The dialogue is a bit stilted in places, and some of the detail could have been excised to make a standard film, but I still enjoy this one. 7/10.

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The Tommyknockers

Emmy says:
I enjoyed this adaptation from book to screen, although I felt the lack of home made devices (there was a lot more in the book than the handful shown here). The cast were great at realising the characters and looked good in green. As there is a large amount of ‘in the head’ process at the end of the book I expected the ending to be changed. Not entirely happy with the route taken. 7/10.

Jeff says:
The changes from the novel are mostly understandable, and most are based on things referenced in the book. The characters (apart from Gard and Bobbi) were not really all that well-rounded on the page so, instead of a lot of cameo inventors, the film focuses on a core group. This is understandable, but it loses some of the impact. Given what the book describes, I imagine this was also the best compromise with early 90’s effects (the green was perfect, though). I’m interested to see what the remake does, given the people involved. I would like to see the philosophy from the end of the book explored more. Entertaining, but the epitome of early 90s King adaptations. 7/10.

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Needful Things

Emmy says:
This screenplay is the perfect reduction of the essence of the novel by King. Beautiful music underpinning scenes of hectic tension. Great interpretation of the characters by the cast of actors. This doesn’t have the slow boil the book seems to have, yet the events only cover a single week there. Insidious 9/10.

Jeff says:
I love this movie, but I can’t explain why. Excellent acting from Max von Sydow and Ed Harris, probably. The rest of the cast was brilliant as well. Even though I love it, and it does a great job of reducing the book to the essential elements, there are a few things that bother me. I feel like the tensions in the town were already too high before Gaunt’s arrival, and the characterisations of Nettie and Wilma were too broad for my liking. The sexualisation of Gaunt’s interest in Polly also struck a wrong note for me. The reviews of this film, when it came out, criticised how unpleasant everyone was … but that was the point. It might have helped to show the town being ‘pleasant’, but with underlying tensions, before the shop opened – it might have made the point better. I’d be interested in how someone like Jordan Peele would remake this story. 9/10.

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Gerald’s Game

Emmy says:
A very faithful translation to screen of a book that contains a single character and the voices in her head for the vast majority of it. I do prefer the anxiety of the first person view of the book to the passive third person of the movie. Stellar work 9/10.

Jeff says:
Disturbingly good adaptation of a disturbingly good Stephen King novel. A well-crafted story that mostly takes place in one room (if you discount the flash backs). I was so angry at some parts and deeply bothered by others: in ways that only happen in a well-made, compelling, engaging film. 9/10.

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The Dark Half

Emmy says:
A well-written film that cut down the story to the important points. Unfortunately, that meant doing a disservice to Alan Pangborn who no longer has the character trails and development that exists in the novel. The ending was then rushed, which was disappointing. 7/10.

Jeff says:
There’s a reason you get a film like this adapted and directed by George A Romero. I have nothing to back this up, but I think the ending was what got Romero on board. The rest of the story did a good job of hitting the needed beats, and condensing Stephen King is never easy (and this was a 2 hour movie, not a 4 hour mini-series). Timothy Hutton was excellent as both Thad and his Dark Half, but it seemed more like a summary than a story. The acting was good, the story well told … it was just too short. 7/10.

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It (1990)

Emmy says:
I watched this film as if through a haze of nostalgia, it made me laugh, it made me smile with indulgence and it ended with making me cry. The cringe worthy 80s effects and Foley have not aged well at all, with that, the story is still strong and carefully collated from the vast amount of material in the novel. 8/10.

Jeff says:
I remember this as a good movie, but not great. Rewatching, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The characters mattered, the relationship to the book was clear (I think the new version does well to change the story to be kids then adults rather than interspersing, but the interspersed timelines were in the original story. A lot of things hinted or mentioned, rather than shown, and it really wasn’t that scary – but then it wasn’t rated for a lot of scares. It was more of an adventure story than a horror film. Still, the cast did an excellent job and now I’m really wondering how the new adults will compare with It: Chapter Two later this year. 8/10.

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Pet Sematary

Emmy says:
This film shows some amazing attention to details with small things like a old hanky for a pocket square. I’m grateful that there was evidence of the call of the burial grounds. Mostly true to the essence of the book. 7/10.

Jeff says:
So, you’re updating a Stephen King story (that’s been done before) and you want to put a twist in to throw the readers off? How about not give it away in the trailers then?! I’ve commented on this before, but this move has me now going to flag films as #ruinedbytrailer if they give away the surprises before you’ve even bought your ticket. That wasn’t the only problem here. Everything about this film screams at me that it’s trying to be Insidious, Annabelle, or something else like that from Blumhouse. Now, there’s nothing wrong with those films – and Blumhouse is making AMAZING movies – but that’s not quite what’s expected from Stephen King stories. It works here, because this story is King at his bleakest (even he says so), but it’s close. All the necessary key beats from the story were there (even to the point of being able to predict the next scare), and I was pleased to see the pull of the burial grounds was included – the book had it, but the previous film version left it out. Some things get under your skin, even when you know better. Kind of like hoping for a great King adaptation. 7/10.

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Secret Window

Emmy says:
Without knowing the liberties this screenplay has taken from the book, some of the earlier bits of information are jarring and seem like a poor choice. After the conclusion they do, however, make sense. The limited costume for Mort definitely accentuates the depths to which he has sunk. The music provided a background level of tension that heightened the sense of impending dread. A very good adaptation of the short story. 8/10.

Jeff says:
I’ve been meaning to watch this for years, and the Stephen King Watch-a-long has finally given me the opportunity. Was it worth the weight? Not especially. Another King adaptation where all the interesting bits are left out. To be sure, this was necessary – even for a short story – to keep it under 100 minutes. There were changes that didn’t need to be made, and I feel like the ending spoiled what King had intended. Still, decent acting from pre-‘eccentric’ Depp – which is just as well since it’s just him for over half the film. This was an odd little story when King wrote it, the adaptation is an odd little film. I guess that’s fitting, in the end. 7/10.

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Misery

100 Movies before we move: #47

Emmy says:
For a novel that is 90% inside a character’s mind this film is a brilliant translation. Unfortunately, the novel made me feel real terror and I wanted that to be visible on screen. Paul showed fear and despair but I didn’t see the horror in his eyes. Apart from that the characters were fantastically realised and created a great movie. 8/10.

Jeff says:
There is a good reason why this film rates high on the list of Stephen King adaptations. Once again Rob Reiner does an excellent job of bringing King’s characters to life. King  is often hard to translate, especially when there is a lot of inner monologue (like in this book), but William Goldman’s script managed to find ways to overcome that issue without resulting to voice-over. James Caan did an admirable job as the writer, but I felt that he didn’t quite have the face to show true horror – he was too ready to smirk. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her role, and deserved it. Not as scary as the book, but that was always going to be a big ask. 9/10.

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