8


Order now
Numéro
18

On Netflix, 5 disturbing films based on Stephen King's novels

Cinéma

Unmentionable secrets, rotting bodies, incest... All that is repulsive is inseparable from  Stephen King's gruesome novels and novellas. On the occasion of the release of Vincenzo Natali's "In the Tall Grass" (2019) on Netflix, Numéro looks back at five disturbing films inspired by the work of the literary genius, which question our relationship to taboos.

Thomas Jane dans "1922" (2017) de Zak Hilditch.

1. The rats of guilt in Zak Hilditch's 1922 (2017)

 

On a remote farm in the Arkansas plains, Wilfred James lives alone with his wife Arlette and their teenage son. When Arlette suggests selling their farm and moving to Omaha, Wilfred becomes frightened: his wife, who is wealthier than him, is in charge of his fate... So he decides to persuade their 14-year-old son to help him murder Arlette. Once she is asleep, Wilfred slits her throat in front of his son, before throwing the corpse into a well. Adapted from Stephen King's 2010 short novel of the same name - in his collection Dark Night, Dead Stars - Zak Hilditch's film recreates an anxiety-inducing atmosphere of unbearable guilt that gnaws at Wilfred, materialised by the omnipresence of rats, which first feed on his wife's lifeless body, before infesting his entire house, which - like his sanity - eventually falls into ruin.

2. A fatal overdose of Viagra in Mike Flanagan's Gerald's Game (2017) 

 

Jessie and Gerald have been married a long time. So it's only natural that they want to spice up their sex life: once they've settled in for the weekend at their holiday home - nestled on the edge of an Alabama lake - Gerald takes two Viagra pills. He then ties Jessie to the bed with handcuffs, and tells her about his sordid fantasy: he wants her to scream and pretend he's raping her. He assures her that no one will hear them. But then Gerald dies of a heart attack. Jessie spends a few minutes screaming, but soon realises that indeed no one can hear her. Their hungry dog ends up eating her dead husband's arm... then, dehydrated and exhausted, she talks to her hallucinations, forced to dig up terrible memories that have been buried for years. The novel of the same name, published in 1992, had long been considered impossible to adapt to cinema, given the large part of the story devoted to the inner questioning of the main protagonist.

Laysla De Oliveira dans "Dans les hautes herbes" (2019) de Vincenzo Natali.

3. A disturbing game of hide-and-seek with Vincenzo Natali's In the High Grass (2019)

 

 

Who knew that grass could be scary? Ask Stephen King and Joe Hill, they'll find a way,” the director said in 2015 when he announced his adaptation project. Against a backdrop of incestuous love, a disturbing tale plunges us into the heart of a field of tall grass with disturbing powers. As a brother and his six-months pregnant sister - whose father is unknown - travel to San Diego, they stop by a church in search of fresh air. Attracted by the cries of a young boy from the nearby tall grass field, they go deep into it and search for him. As all notions of time and space dislocate, the two protagonists lose sight of each other, until they find the boy lying next to a crow's carcass, muttering "the field doesn't move the dead"... Released in 2017, the film - now available on Netflix - is adapted from a novella co-written by Stephen King and his son, Joe Hill, that appeared in two parts in the July and August 2012 issues of Esquire magazine. 

4. A terrible manhunt in The Dark Tower by Nikolaj Arcel (2017)

 

For thirty years, Stephen King wrote The Dark Tower (1982-2012), a literary saga consisting of eight volumes that combined science fiction, fantasy and westerns... all with a healthy dose of spooky details. Rich in twists and turns and epic battles, The Dark Tower has long been on the list of literary works to be adapted for the big screen. In February 2007, the script was first proposed to J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof, the co-creators of the Lost series: but, put off by its complexity, they gave up on its adaptation two years later. Then Universal took over the project, hoping to launch the production of a trilogy of films - with Russell Crowe in the lead role - before withdrawing deeming it too ambitious and risky... Finally, it was Sony who took the plunge in 2015 with Nikolaj Arcel. Idris Elba was cast as Roland of Gilead, a vengeful man hunting down the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), trying to stop him from attacking the Dark Tower, a sort of neuralgic point between all the universes...If it collapses, a population of monsters dressed in human skins will land on Earth.

Okezie Morro et Alyssa Sutherland dans “The Mist“ (2017) de Frank Darabont.

5. The opaque fog of Christian Torpe's The Mist (2017)

 

 

In 2007, Stephen King's 1980 novel of the same name was adapted for the screen, as a feature film directed by Frank Darabont. The writer's favourite filmmaker had already taken on three of his novels, including The Escaped (1995) and The Green Line (1999). Ten years later, Christian Torpe unveiled the first season of The Mist, a horrific series in ten 45-minute episodes, tracing the disturbing days following the sudden arrival of a thick mist over Bridgeville, Maine. Like Under The Dome (2015), the inhabitants of a small town find themselves trapped by an unexplained phenomenon... Once again, the genius of the macabre combines the natural elements with psychic disturbances. Plunged into the fog, four residents find themselves trapped in a shopping mall. As the air becomes opaque, they see their most unmentionable secrets resurface - and their memories, in the form of hallucinations, help or kill them depending on how they react.