Writer: W.D. Richter (Screenplay) Stephen King (Book)
Starring: Max von Sydow, Ed Harris, Bonnie Bedelia, Amanda Plummer, J.T. Walsh, Ray McKinnon, Duncan Fraser, Valri Bromfield, Shane Meier
Plot: A mysterious new shop opens in a small town which always seems to stock the deepest desires of each shopper, with a price far heavier than expected.
Runtime: 2 Hours
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: One of King’s Most Interesting Stories
Story: Needful Things starts when Leland Gaunt (von Sydow) opens up an antique shop in the small town of Castle Rock, the shop known as Needful Things, see the locals visit, with them getting an unusually attachment to certain items in the shop, items that are clearly meant for each individual person, one that strikes a memory.
As the town starts flocking to the shop, it becomes clear that Leland has alternate plans for the town, with Sheriff Alan Pangborn (Harris) needing to investigate a new increase amount of small crimes, which slowly start to build in seriousness before the town turns to chaos.
Thoughts on Needful Things
Characters – Leland Gaunt is the mysterious shopkeeper that arrives to Castle Rock, his shop has everything the people of the town want and he knows everything about everyone in the town. He trades their desires for favours, which mostly involve going against people in the town, he knows how to remain calm through the conversations, knowing just what they want to hear. Sheriff Alan Pangborn left the big city for a quiet life, he is enjoying his life in the town, with his new fiancée, until the crime levels start to rise, which sees him going from dealing with cats in trees, to murders, can he stop the power Leland has over the town before it is too late. Polly is Alan’s fiancée, she runs the local diner opposite the new shop, she doesn’t run in like some of the other residents, which sees her witnessing the changes from the locals. Nettie is a shy former abuse victim that becomes one of the first customers of the shop, showing how easily people can like what he is willing to offer. We do get a string of people that start to get caught in his ideas.
Performances – Max von Sydow is wonderful to watch in this film, he gives the character the mystery and charisma he needs to seem like a friendly person. Ed Harris is always good to watch, here he does the small town cop routine with ease, playing a good man who must help his people. Bennie Bedelia is strong without getting enough important early scenes to make us understand how disturbed her character’s life is.
Story – The story here follows a small town that gets a new visitor in a shopkeeper that soon starts giving the locals everything they ever wanted, for a price, which sees the town turn to chaos and the sheriff needing to solve the problem before it is too late. This is one of the most interesting of the Stephen King stories, it looks at human desires taking control over our own sanity, how one town can be turned upside down by the ideas of what could be ours, rather than giving us what we need. The story is shown to unfold at a delightful pace because it shows how the deals are put in place with each deal, slowly starting to growing from disruptive behaviour right up to murder. The story does rely on the idea of town working together to prove themselves.
Fantasy/Horror – The fantasy side of the film shows just how Leland can bring about whatever the person in the town wants, he can make the impossible, possible, which only plays into the horrors of just what he can do to this world, when people get everything they ever wanted.
Settings – The film is set in the small town of Castle Rock, this is one location where everybody knows each other, which is one of the trademarks for any Stephen King novel.
Special Effects – The effects in the film are very simple, they do play into the idea of fantasy elements, when we see just what will happen with the power given to the people.
Final Thoughts – This is easily one of the more underrated of Stephen King’s adaptions, it gives us a perfect moral dilemma and keeps everything feel a lot more grounded for a horror one.
Overall: Entertaining throughout.