Once upon a time Stephen King adaptations were hot property.
With critically acclaimed hits like Carrie, Salem’s Lot, Pet Sematary and Stand By Me; King’s stories resonated with a widespread audience.
Drawn from his own childhood experiences from years before, each spoke of a prior evil which had returned to wreak havoc on usually a small American town.
Sometimes they Come Back follows these constant motives, that are of course suggested within the title.
Much in the same vein as IT, Jimmy has moved back to his old town 27 years after his brother Wayne was murdered by a gang of school bullies; who were also killed in the incident on the local train track.
He is now having nightmares and visions of the gang, and firmly believes that they are set to come back to finish what they started with his brother.
His visions become a reality as the boys return one by one, and coincidentally bodies of local school kids start turning up too. As Jimmy seems to know more about the murders than anyone, the police suspect him of the crimes; and he now faces another task of clearing himself and ridding the town of the demons from
his past once and for all.
Unlike its counterparts in the King sub-genre of horror, Sometimes They Come Back lacks some of the character development that made the others so engaging.
The scene is set for Jimmy and his young family, but we never really get to know his wide Sally or son Scott who are catapulted into this surreal situation.
Symbolism has always been one of King’s strength’s, and Sometimes They Come Back uses the tunnel where the murder and deaths happened as almost a portal between the living and dead.
Everything leads to this place; this derelict train line unused for years after the tragedy. This is of course where Jimmy must confront the demons and save his family and the soul of his deceased sibling Wayne.
Tim Matheson is comfortable in the role of older Jimmy, without really pushing character beyond minor exposure. You feel his pain, but he never really conveys enough emotion for the audience to sympathise with him.
Robert Rusler, co-star of many 80’s hits including Weird Science and A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2, revels in his role as chief demon/bully Richard. Much in the same vein as Kiefer Sutherland’s lead in The Lost Boys, he carries the air of authority, and also is the first to show his ‘true colours’ to the town.
The finale seems quite rushed after the moderate pacing throughout, but the final few minutes are heartbreaking not for Jimmy; but for Wayne as he ‘goes towards the light’.
It’s not the best King adaptation from what can be perceived as golden period, but there are enough anecdotes and entertainment to ensure you will be coming back for more.