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Johnny Smith wakes from a coma due to a car accident, only to find he has lost five years of his life, and yet gained psychic powers. Foreseeing the future appears to be a 'gift' at first, but ends up causing problems...Written by
Paul Reynolds <email@example.com>
Coleen Dewhurst, who plays a character's mom that hates Christopher Walken's Johnny, played Walken's mom in Woody Allen's Annie Hall. See more »
The story seems to take place in its production time, the early 1980s. The doctor, played by Herbert Lom, seems much too old to have been a child during WW2. In fact Lom was 22 when the war started. See more »
[Johnny is reading "The Raven" to his class]
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting, on the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door, and his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, and the lamp light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor, and my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor, shall be lifted... nevermore.
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As the opening titles roll, certain parts (or "dead zones") of the screen become blocked out, until the part of the screen you can see spell out the title "The Dead Zone." See more »
A schoolteacher Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) a survivor of a road accident awakes from a five-year coma to discover he has psychic abilities, which he gets visions of the past, present and the deadly future. And how he does it, is through the use of touch. But life has changed within that time with his girlfriend (Brooke Adams) being married; he's basically crippled and no longer having a job. So now he uses his abilities to help a sheriff (Tom Skerritt) solve a murder case, to save a child's life and predicting world's fate from an evilly corrupt politician (Martin Sheen) who plans to be president.
It's definitely one of my favourite King adaptations and you could say Cronenberg at his best. This time around Cronenberg has taken a more mainstream (even though depressing) approach with none of his grotesque and disturbing visuals evident, but that doesn't take away from the experience - as on show is good story telling, performances and film-making. Visually the film does hold strong imagery (especially the vision scenes) and also the picture truly captures the unsaturated colours of the wintry backdrop, which makes the bleak atmosphere such a dour affair. Though the sharp stabbing sounds when Johnny gets a vision truly knocks you, but it's the stinging outcome that made the film for me. Distinctive photography by Mark Irwin was beautifully constructed and pretty smooth in the detail of the settings. While, the driving score stood out and was particularly on the spot with capturing the right mood. Sound performances are given by the likes of the sympathetic Christopher Walken and the innocent Brooke Adams. Martian Sheen delivers a rather hammy performance and Tom Skerritt's performance is the total opposite, being rather toned down. Cronenberg's solid direction paces the film swiftly and also creates some well-staged sequences of tension that stick in your head. In all you can always expect dashing film-making by Cronenberg and that's what you get in this picture.
The story is what I had some gripes with. At times it felt like writer Jeffrey Boam was trying to squeeze too much into the story. Some interesting and intelligent sub-plots (murder investigation) felt hurried and rather contrived - it was like it was concentrating and building more towards the final act instead. But then again time is money and it didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of this film. The plot is basically a portrait of a man coming to grips with his pain and accepting the fate his been chosen and also throw in some social commentary into the mix. Also added is the occasional dabbing of dry/witty remarks, but for me it was uncomfortable humour. That being pretty much the state of the film. One thing I noticed, but don't know if this symbolism was intended but the way Johnny is always wearing the black coat reminded me of death (fate). Especially with touch his can see into the future and actually alter what can happen (say death). Maybe it was just I?
It isn't gut wrenching stuff (visually speaking) we've come to expect by Cronenberg, but still he nails down a well drawn up and gripping drama/thriller.
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