Castle Rock, New England, is a nice place to live and grow and Sheriff Alan Pangborn moves from the big city to the town expecting a quiet life. When Leland Gaunt opens the store Needful Things, he seems to have the object of desire for each dweller. He charges small amounts to the things but requests a practical joke for each of them against another inhabitant. Soon hell breaks loose in town with deaths, violence and riot and Sheriff Pangborn discovers that Leland Gaunt is the devil himself. Further, Gaunt is manipulating the population like puppets exploring the weakness and greed of each person.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Bonnie Bedelia previously appeared in "Salem's Lot (1979) TV mini series)," which was also based on a 'Stephen King' novel, and was also about a mysterious stranger who moves into a small town and opens an antique shop. That film also featured two actors (James Mason and Clarissa Kaye-Mason) who were a real-life husband and wife, as does this film (Ray McKinnon and Lisa Blount). They also both featured an actor whose spouse appeared in another film featuring the same characters. Julie Cobb appeared in "Salem's Lot," which her husband James Cromwell appeared in the remake in 2004. Ed Harris's character previously appeared in "The Dark Half (1993)," which featured his wife, Amy Madigan. See more »
Brian throws apples at the windows of a house. The fifth apple breaks the top pane of a window. It is the same window that was broken by the kid's second apple, and is a re-used shot. See more »
A man buys a first edition, signed copy of Treasure Island by 'Robert Louis Stevenson', and a girl steals it. Subsequently, both refer to the title as Huck Finn by Mark Twain. The goof remains in the theatrical and TV versions, but in the video and DVD releases, his words are dubbed over to correct the mistake. See more »
"Needful Things" is a typical mediocre Stephen King adaptation. The drawn out book itself isn't among King's best work. Still, the fascination of the story lies in the detail and that had to be trimmed down for a 2 hours-movie version (there is another cut of the movie that's one hour longer, by the way). A lot of things had to be kicked out, but there was way too much changing around of events, items and characters. Ace Merril, a very important character for the novel's big finale, was ignored completely, for instance. I could understand things like that if they improved the movie. Kubrick made a lot of changes with his version of "Shining" and at least one could see why. With "Needful Things" the changes seem totally random and that's rather annoying for someone who has read the book.
If you don't know the story beforehand the movie will probably still seem rushed. You can't really make a connection with the many characters and Sheriff Alan Pangborn finding out what's going on in the town seems unbelievable. It didn't really work in the book, but in the movie it's just stupid that he would draw such far fetched conclusions so quickly.
The acting, on the other hand, is solid. Max von Sydow is a good choice for the part of Leland Gaunt, and Ed Harris is great as ever, although he has to work with a rather mediocre script. The sidecharacters are okay for the most part, even though Polly Chalmers and Wilma Jerzyck are maybe exaggerated.
Unlike a lot of latter King adaptations this one seems to have been made with a decent budget. The locations look good and there are a few nice special effects. At times the explosions and the score can be too much, though. It's as if director Fraser Clarke Heston realized his movie wasn't turning out as exciting as he hoped, so he decided to blow it up with some dramatic music and fire.
Well, as I've said in the headline. This movie could have been a lot better, but it could also have been a complete failure. As it is, it's good for one viewing but if you've read the novel you're going to be disappointed.
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