Sunday, 17 May 2009


Mick Garris - USA - 2006

The first half is fair enough, with the demonic sheriff rounding up random people who just happen to be passing through his middle-of-nowhere town called Desperation, jailing them for some undoubtedly demonic purpose.. Once the victims are out of the jail, the whole thing comes to a screeching halt for an old man to spout exposition, then for an tediously evangelical and pious child to gush born-again Stephen Kingisms. King has said that horror is conservative because it is about the fight between Good and Evil. Actually, the fight between Good and Evil is the Conservative view of horror which takes for granted the existence of such polar forces. Usually this involves the most banal evocation of horror, the kind fully on display in "Desperation": unholy portals, possession, random prophetic visions, possessed people acting in hammy fashion and using pop-culture references in that punning post-Jack Torence, post-Freddy Kruger manner. Evil also uses spiders and snakes and big cats and wisecracking Hellboys (yes, Ron Perlman). God uses visions of angelic dead girls and back-story conveyed in the style of old silent-movies (complete with title cards and tight editing) to pass on visions to the prophet-boy. Later, He will use personal, shameful memories served up as bad war movies. And God also sends divine soap to aid escape plans (rather than, you know, simply opening cell doors). King’s conservative vision of horror does not accommodate the far more complex, painful and truthful horror of post-Vietnam genre films such as "Night of the Living Dead", "Last House on the Left", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"… the list is well known. To top off how this incorporates all the worst traits of King’s screenplays, the hero with the spiritual dilemma is yet again a writer.

All that matters is what God wants, says the kid at one point. In such a weak offering, does King really think he has a message to spin? It’s a mess, it’s badly paced, weakly played and unimaginatively rendered, especially come the second half. If you are to look for a far more disturbing investigation of the temptation of Evil, look to another King mini-series, "Storm of the Century". It is everything that this effort is not: carefully paced and a sturdy allegory and not just a little disturbing.

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