Stephen King, the horror writer extraordinaire. With a library load of books to his credit and a fan base of fanatic’s eager to purchase any piece that pours from his platinum pen. Quite obviously many of his books have inspired movie adaptations, however surprisingly the transformation from page to cinema has not always been a successful one.
Scanning a list of films based on King’s work which features 116 writing credits, there is a mixture of masterpieces and mush. On the one side we have horror classics like Carrie, The Shinning, Misery and The Mist. And on the other, laughable b-movie blowouts such as Maximum Overdrive, The Tommyknockers, Dreamcatcher and The Langoliers.
Is the problem the original material or the directors adapting it? Are the stories simply untranslatable to the silver screen? And most importantly is Dolan’s Cadillac, the latest movie to come from a King novel, one of the good ones or one of the stinkers?
Jimmy Dolan (Christian Slater) is a Vegas crime lord who deals in human trafficking. After a shipment of girls goes wrong, he ends up killing half his cargo in the desert. The unceremonious execution is witnessed by Elizabeth (Saw victim Emmanuelle Vaugier) who is targeted by Dolan for knowing too much.
With a promise of protection if she testifies against him, Elizabeth and her loving husband Robinson (American Beauty’s plastic bag lover Wes Bentley) believe they are safe however Dolan is too powerful and well connected to be stopped.
Driven by revenge and desperate for retribution, Robinson spirals into madness consumed by his hatred for Dolan and his mission to make him pay for what he has done – in the most horrific way possible.
More a thriller than an all-out horror, director Jeff Beesley, who learnt his trade making TV shows, spins a stylish and sinister story of vengeance from King’s original short story from Nightmares and Dreamscapes, which was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado.
The look and feel is reminiscent of Donnie Darko, The Machinist and Pi – all films which center around the hero’s tenuous grip on reality. And Bentley does a solid job creating a character both sympathetic and slightly insane at the same time.
Original planed to be played by Sylvester Stallone, Slater’s Dolan is the compelling centre of the film, equal parts sharp suited sleaze and Shakespearian scoundrel spiting out evocative smart soliloquies as easily as swear words.
As mentioned the dialogue is particularly good and credit is due to the script which although starting out slow does manage to stretch King’s short into a full feature with out too much filler.
As Hollywood keeps buying up the rights to more of Stephen King’s stories other directors could take cues from Dolan’s Cadillac on how it should be done. A twisted tale of revenge with a chilling climax this movie offers something different with a great cast and a solid script which will have you absorbed from start to finish.