I recently decided to try to overcome some of my usual film snobbery, and watch more films shown free on TV. It doesn’t cost me anything, (except time) and I might find myself pleasantly surprised by what’s on offer, once I put away my prejudices. So with that in mind, I taped a few films from Film 4, and got around to watching two of them last night. This was the first one.
A Stephen King adaptation. Co-Produced by, and starring John Cusack, with Samuel L. Jackson.
Surely that would be worth watching?
The film begins with a catastrophic event. Everyone using a cellphone (mobile) is affected by an unusual signal that drives them all crazy. What follows is a scene of carnage, as homicidal sufferers run around an airport terminal killing each other, or attacking those trying to escape. Meanwhile, graphic artist Clay (Cusack) has been trying to contact his estranged wife and young son, when his phone runs out of battery, saving him from the signal. Seeking somewhere to hide, he gets down into the subway, where no phone signal could reach. Meeting up with the train driver, Tom (Jackson) the pair decide to return to Clay’s apartment, wher they encounter another survivor, a young woman called Alice.
The hordes of people affected by the event are now wandering around in huge ‘flocks’, attacking anyone they meet. The trio of survivors agree to travel to New Hampshire, to try to find Clay’s wife and son. Managing to escape the city, (Boston) their journey constitutes the rest of the action in this film. The ‘affected’ are not zombies, and they don’t eat people. But they become connected by the event, and operate as a very efficient whole, a lot like ants. Come across one of them, and very soon hundreds more will arrive on the scene. The three friends now acquire a lot of guns from the house of a gun owner, and begin their dangerous trip.
I was struck by a dreary sense of having seen it all before. Substitute the ‘affected’ for zombies, and the story has been done to death.
Jackson plays himself as usual, with that easy way of looking as if playing Samuel L. Jackson comes naturally to him.
Cusack finally looks a little older, and is worried and stressed throughout all of the film.
(Understandable, when he knew what it cost to make)
The girl is tough, with a vulnerable core.
They escape danger by a whisker, killing lots of scary people in the process.
They meet a small boy and the old teacher caring for him. (Stacey Keach) and naturally take the boy along with them.
They encounter crazy survivors, unsure whether or not they are affected.
And of course, they all dream the same dream, of a terrifying man, dressed in red.
Oh, and guess what? That man is the manifestation of one of Clay’s characters in his comic.
And don’t even get me started on the final ‘reveal’.
Maybe this was a good book. I don’t know, I have never read it. But I expect better from Stephen King, as well as from the usually reliable cast in this mess. I watched this film so that you never have to. The only sad thing is, I will never get back the 98 minutes of my life spent doing so.