Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: Riding the Bullet.

Directed by Stephen King's old partner in crime Mick Garris (The Stand, Sleepwalkers), Riding the Bullet is an exercise in horror morality. Based on King's 30 odd-pager of the same name, it details the plight of college student Alan Parker . . . a disturbed adolescent who chooses the long walk in order to see his dying mother and takes a short cut instead.

Riding the Bullet was a phenomenon in e-book publishing history, earning its maker an embarrassing amount of money with a lot of hype attached. If you come to this movie expecting the same kind of buildup, you'll be sorely disappointed. However, it is a faithful adaptation, and writer/director Mick Garris has emulated on an already interesting story and stretched it into a tangible tale with merit. A viewer can tell the production probably had a shoe-string budget and it almost has a 'cable feel to it , but such discrepancies are easily forgiven when we see Garris has a true understanding of King's visions.

Set in Maine, 1969 (where else) Bullet opens up to Alan Parker going through the motions of a break up whilst trying to deal with his teenage angst. Depressed, suicidal, his thoughts are substituted cleverly with the aid of an Alan 'double' who sits by his side like a conscience caricature espousing advice. After a futile attempt at suicide , which mostly comes off as hilarious , he receives a phone call from a family friend about his mother's recent stroke that waylays his plans to catch a John Lennon concert with friends. From here, the viewer is treated to Alan's hitch-hiking journey to get to the hospital . . . and the malign characters he meets along the way.

One of the pit-falls with this the protagonist: Alan can come across slightly annoying; certainly, it's hard to sympathize with a dude like this one. So it's fitting when at last a very special kind of ride comes his way (played by David Arquette) to give him an ultimatum and perhaps teach him a few lessons regarding life, death , and which state is preferable.

For King fans, this movie is worth your time. It moves at a swift pace and is punctured by delicious tid-bits and comical moments (readers of Christine and From a Buick 8 will be cheering). Overall, you come away with the feeling one ultimately gets from a King story: there's an everyman quality to it filled with aching nostalgia.

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