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 . . . who must choose between a shortcut or the long walk on the road to a dying mother.
Riding the Bullet was a phenomenon in e-book publishing history, attached with hype and earning its maker an embarrassing amount of money. If you come to this movie expecting a similar buildup, you'll be somewhat disappointed. However, it is a faithful adaptation, and writer/director Mick Garris has built upon an already interesting story, stretching the narrative into a tangible tale with merit. Though a production budget is lacking, fiscal shortcomings are pardonable knowing Garris has a genuine understanding of King's vision.
Set in Maine (where else)? in 1969, Bullet introduces us to Alan Parker. Going through the motions of a break up riding coattails with suicidal ideation, Alan's thoughts are cleverly substituted with the aid of a 'doppelganger' who sits nonchalantly in the shadows espousing advice. After a futile attempt at self-termination (which mostly comes off hilarious), Alan receives a phone-call detailing his mother's recent stroke, the incident waylaying any plans to catch a John Lennon concert with friends. From here, we become a passenger on Alan's hitch-hiking journey ... and meet malign characters on the way.
Minor pit-falls: our protagonist comes across as unlikable ... so it's fitting when a special kind of ride pulls up (David Arquette), who offers Alan an ultimatum concerning life, death, and which state is preferable.
For King fans, this movie is worth your time. It moves at a swift pace punctured by easter eggs and comical moments (readers of Christine and From a Buick 8 will be cheering). Overall, you come away with a feeling one ultimately gets from any King story: there's an everyman quality filled with aching nostalgia.