“Cell” was troubled from the moment it was optioned in to a movie. Rather than become a success tale like “It,” it instead was left to tread water as a limited release that was quietly tucked away on the VOD market, and is now a two dollar purchase on streaming services. It’s not surprising since “Cell” is a film that could have used a much better script, a lot more development, and about twenty more minutes in its run time. In its state it feels utterly incomplete, half baked and rushed, along with pairing two stars that, at their best, are magnificent and at their worst, make a good living phoning in (shut up) performances. Tod Williams had the chance to jump on the ball and really provide us with a frantic and scary commentary about our over reliance on technology, and he fails.
It’s surprising for such an iconic author that Stephen King’s tales are so tough to bring to the big screen. I don’t know why “Children of the Corn” has managed to become something of a semi-classic since 1984 because the only scary thing about it is how boring it is. “Children of the Corn” has been a baffling horror presence since 1984, garnering a whole series of movies, including a remake, and sequels to the remake. There’s even been a new film in 2018.
Once upon a time a very popular Stephen King novel was made in to a hit movie and it became influential among many horror buffs. That’s about the extent of drama or intriguing Hollywood back story you’ll get with “Unearthed & Untold.” I’m sure it would make for a wonderful extra in its initial release, but I don’t know per se if it granted its own special release on Blu-Ray. The oddly celebrated horror drama is a movie that wasn’t much of an underdog like “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and didn’t garner weird supernatural coincidences like the set of “Poltergeist.” It was just a movie that was made thanks to a book that scared its own author to the core…
Chalk it up to rock bottom expectations, but “It” blew me away when it arrived in theaters mainly because it exceeded my expectations and proved to be a stellar film all around. Andres Muschetti already killed it with his adaptation of his short “Mama,” but he brings his same sensibility in another coming of age tale where pure evil meets innocence. “It” is a masterstroke of a reboot, a movie that pays tribute to the original novel and re-invents every aspect from the ground up for a new audience without dumbing down the material.
2017 was a great year for movies, especially if you were a horror buff. While the media downplayed it immensely, horror movies kicked major ass in theaters and streaming services, and a few of the highest grossing an most acclaimed films were horror, including a new adaptation of a Stephen King novel, which broke all records. While America wondered if there would be nuclear war tomorrow, Hollywood kept us entertained and laughing, with great superhero cinema, and of course some cathartic genre films of the horror, fantasy, and science fiction variety.
Without further ado: my top 10 of 2017.
It’s been a banner year for Stephen King fans everywhere, and Shout Factory sweetens the pot by giving Rob Reiner’s horror masterpiece “Misery” a collector’s edition. Based on the classic Stephen King novel, Rob Reiner who is no stranger to adapting King’s work, brings to screen a work of terror, dark comedy, and a demented commentary about the fans behind our work that also control our work. It’s a very volatile and sharp edged polemic about fandom when you get right down to it, and it’s never been more relevant than in the day and age where fandoms from all corners of the world have the loudest voices and sometimes can break the very thing they love.
2017’s been the year of Stephen King, and it’s been a great bit of fortune that fans have been given mostly great cinematic adaptations of his work. “1922” is a deliberately paced and ingeniously calculated drama that hearkens back to the classic Victorian era murder thrillers. King invokes the style of Edgar Allan Poe for “1922,” a Southern Gothic drama that’s heavily steeped in horror. While it’s been lumped in to the Stephen King horror category, “1922” is more an examination on the concept of greed, and how it can rot us from inside out. It’s more tragedy with a tinge of horror more than horror, despite how menacing director Zak Hilditch paints the twisted albeit beautiful aesthetic.
Mike Flanagan is one of the best directors working in film today. His list of genre offerings have been impressive, not just because the movies have been great, but because he knows how to build a damn good narrative. Flanagan has consistently impressed me, and with “Gerald’s Game” he delivers a stellar horror drama from the works of Stephen King. Even the best directors have fallen under the weight of the difficult to adapt King tales, but “Gerald’s Game” manages to be an unnerving and complex dramatic thriller that is focused on character and the sometimes weird coincidences of life and fate.