I watched this movie adaptation of another Stephen King story the other night. I have to say, this was totally what I expect of Stephen King. There were a lot of big names in this film including Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Tom Sizemore and Jason Lee just to name a few. I happen to be a HUGE fan of both Morgan Freeman (who isn’t?) and Thomas Jane (he was the Punisher in the movie adaptation for the comic book character). I mean, how can you not love Morgan Freeman? This is a man who didn’t even truly begin his acting career until he was like fifty years old. And he’s phenomenal in everything he does. Everything. Truly, the man is a god on screen. But, back to the movie.
This is a story about four guys; Henry, Jonesy, Beaver and Pete, all friends since childhood, and their yearly getaway at a cabin in the woods. They reminisce about their younger years and their friend Duddits, a young, mentally handicapped boy they saved from bullies when they were kids. Duddits, whose real name is Douglas but because he’s handicapped he pronounces it a little different, is a very special boy with special abilities and he passes some of those abilities onto the guys. They become somewhat telepathic, each in their own way.
While on the trip, Jonesy is out hunting and encounters a man named Rick. Rick does NOT look well…at all. He’s obviously sick and infected with…something. Jonesy takes Rick back to the cabin and tries to render as much aid as possible but, it’s not much. As they shoot the breeze, Beaver shows back up. He is just as concerned about Rick’s status as Jonesy is and they soon convince Rick to go lie down.
They soon discover that Rick has meandered to the bathroom and well, he’s having some, shall we say, stomach issues. After some concern, and some discussion, Beaver and Jonesy break the bathroom door down, only to wish they hadn’t. They soon find Rick near death and sitting on the toilet having what they assume is the worst case of train wreck diarrhea in human history…and I guess, technically they’d be right.
Blood is everywhere and when Rick falls off the toilet they find that some sort of worm has escaped Rick’s body. Now, this is not like your garden variety worm that you find in the yard while digging in the dirt. Oh no. This thing looks like something horrific and frankly, way worse than you would ever think something that could come out of a human body could look like. But, there it is…in the toilet.
Beaver acts quickly and closes the lid to the toilet and sits on it. (I personally would have opted for closing the DOOR and LEAVING but hey, that’s just me.) Then the guys start discussing what to do and settle for taping the toilet closed before they leave it and shut the bathroom door. Beaver sends Jonesy to get the tape while he sits on the lid and holds it down.
In the midst of all this happening we see what looks like a military operation with helicopters, men in fatigues with major artillery and a commanding officer named Col. Curtis (Mr. Morgan Freeman himself) who is definitely a few sandwiches short of a picnic. This is his last mission before he retires and boy, does he want to make it worth it. He has a second in command, Underhill (Sizemore), who is not as on board with Curtis’s tactics as he is expected to be. Together, along with their team that specializes in the eradication of alien forces, they are attempting to “contain” all people who have been “infected” like Rick was.
Out in the woods, Pete and Henry are driving in their SUV and damn near hit a woman sitting in the middle of the road. They swerve to avoid her and crash, leaving Pete injured. As Pete sits with the woman, who is severely frostbitten and possibly in shock, Henry goes to try and find some help. The woman unfortunately dies and one of the worms exits her body as well. Pete finds it and luckily is able to kill it.
Back at the cabin, Beaver is having a hard time keeping the lid closed and eventually he loses the battle and is killed. When Jonesy comes back with the tape, the worm creature morphs into some sort of alien and possesses Jonesy, taking over his body and mind…well, most of his mind. They call this alien personality now living in Jonesy “Mr. Gray”. Mr. Gray, in Jonesy’s body, gets on a snow mobile and heads out into the woods, a particular destination in mind.
Keep in mind that these guys can talk to each other telepathically. As Mr. Gray gets to Pete, Pete is weakened and not doing so well. Mr. Gray is able to trick Pete, as he is in Jonesy’s body, and is soon killed. Jonesy, who still has control over a small part of his mind, is able to warn Henry to stay hidden from Mr. Gray and Henry heads back to the cabin. Once he gets there he finds Beaver dead. Around him are a bunch of eggs, presumably laid by the alien. Henry says goodbye to Beaver and burns the cabin to destroy everything…and leaves.
Henry makes his way to the “containment center” which honestly, is another name for concentration camp. This place looks like a 21st century Auschwitz. Henry sees Underhill and convinces him through some slick talking that he needs to go against the Colonel’s orders, not kill all of these sick people and help him save everyone else. (No pressure.)
Henry and Underhill go find Duddits and he tells them that Mr. Gray is trying to infect the water supply starting at the Quabbin Reservoir. So, that’s where they head. Curtis, recognizing that Underhill has gone rogue and feeling there is a major threat to society, he gets in his armed helicopter and tracks down Henry and Underhill, shooting Underhill, mortally wounding him. But, Underhill is able to take him out before he dies himself.
Henry takes Underhill’s machine gun from the back of the vehicle and goes to the pump house at the reservoir. There he meets up with Mr. Gray and uses the machine gun to kill HIS worm. Not sure is Jonesy is safe or not yet, Henry sits down and tries to question Jonesy to see if it’s him or Mr. Gray talking. It turns out to be Mr. Gray and Duddits confronts him. Duddits reveals himself to be a different race of alien and the two briefly duel, Mr. Gray losing terribly in the end. Jonesy, who is back to being himself, stands and squashes the final worm just before it slithers into the water supply.
I truly thought this was an excellent movie. There was a lot of suspense and the actors were great. While Stephen King does not list this as one of his top ten favorite movie adaptations of his book, in the extras on the DVD he did say that he was happy with how it came out. I don’t usually get too into alien movies but this one was different. And while the guys had telepathic powers and they used them, they were each special in their own way and that made it even more interesting.
The Duddits character and how he was treated by the bullies is something I am sure we have all seen and it’s just wretched. The fact that these four boys step in to help this boy that they don’t know and then become lifelong friends with him is completely indicative of the good that still exists in the world, even as it’s falling apart around us.
Stephen King, as a writer, rarely disappoints. The movies made from his stories are sometimes hit and miss. This one was a hit. Any King fan should love this movie and practically any suspense/horror fan will like it too.
Don’t expect a slasher flick. That’s not what King does. Even IT isn’t a slasher film. Just because there is blood doesn’t make it a slasher movie. However, there is blood, because well, it’s Stephen King, and there’s action on top of that as well.
I will say that it’s always nice to watch a movie that, at the end, I feel all questions have been answered and I feel a sense of satisfaction in seeing the film. That’s what I got here.