Sunday, 7 February 2016

Needful Things

"Needful Things" (1993, Fraser C. Heston, Castle Rock Entertainment, New Line Cinema, Columbia Pictures) is the screen adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name.

Castle Rock is a small town in Maine, USA. The locals are unsettled when a mysterious man named Leland Gaunt (Max von Sydow) opens an Antiques store called "Needful Things". Slowly different town residents enter the shop to find that Gaunt just happens to have something that is really sentimentally valuable to them. Each resident 'buys' a treasure with Gaunt 'kindly' agreeing to accept favours as part payment. The favours, it transpires, come in the form of cruel pranks played on each resident's neighbours.

Gaunt seems to be very reasonable, knowledgeable and always open, but his true colours begin to show and it becomes evident as time goes on that Gaunt has twisted intentions.

Some films of King's work are admittedly sub-quality. Needful Things is not one of them, in my opinion. The characters are portrayed by recognisable actors and the action is suitably paced but with very little gore. It's more a study on human psychology than a horror film. The plot is uncomfortably familiar, which is possibly why a lot of people don't like this film; it's maybe a little too close to home. Imagine someone could give you something that you really want and the price seems so small... What morals would you shirk in your desperation to get it?

Although it's not a scary film, in the usual sense of the word, it's an entertaining yarn.

[Image: New Line Cinema, et al]