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Desperation (2006)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
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Overall Rating 54%
Overall Rating
Ranked #2,533
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Tom Skerritt
Tom Skerritt
Steven Weber
Steven Weber
Annabeth Gish
Annabeth Gish
Charles Durning
Charles Durning
Matt Frewer
Matt Frewer
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Review by Chad
Added: September 04, 2006
Adapting a Stephen King novel into a television miniseries seems to be the thing to do when a network wants some quick ratings, and while the novels are usually excellent, these adaptations are usually hit or miss... and more often than not, it's three strikes and the director is out. While Mick Garris is no stranger to adapting King's stories for the small-screen after having done no less than five of them, he certainly won't be making any of the nightly highlight reels with his work on Desperation.

Desperation is a small town in Nevada, a town in which every member of the community seems to have been murdered. Corpses line the sidewalks, stores are abandoned, and there's even a few family pets nailed to the street signs. All of this is quickly revealed to Mary (Annabeth Gish) and Peter Jackson (Henry Thomas) after they are pulled over and hauled off to the town jail for possession of marijuana by a highly-deranged officer of the law, a man going by the name of Collie Entragian (Ron Perlman). It doesn't take long for our heroes - well, one of them - to be put into a jail cell, where they meet the other people who are being held prisoner. Town historian Tom Billingsley (Charles Durning) is conveniently one of the prisoners, along with a young boy named David Carver (Shane Haboucha) and his parents Ralph (Matt Frewer) and Ellen (Sylvia Kelegian). Eventually, this band of ladies and gentlemen are joined by a former roadie named Steve Ames (Steven Weber) along with a hitchhiker that he picked up in Cynthia Smith (Kelly Overton), as well as a writer named John Marinville (Tom Skerritt) that was traveling across the country on his motorcycle in order to get ideas for his next book.

Yes, this is a King movie alright - doesn't every one of his adaptations require a mammoth amount of characters? Anyway, they soon discover that Collie isn't just an officer of the law with a murderous streak; once again, this is a King adaptation, so it has to be more complex than that. It turns out that an ancient spirit named Tak has found a home in the neighboring mines and is possessing people in this town, forcing them to kill one another for reasons which are never really explained. Collie just happens to be the newest host for the spirit, and from there, it's a battle between the humans (with God on their side!) and this demon / spirit / entity / whatever the hell it was supposed to be.

There are times when I really want to jot down a few words, hit the "Submit" button on this form, and call it a review. In these situations, those few words are almost always something along the lines of "This movie sucks. Avoid it." However, since I don't think I could get away with that, I suppose that I should elaborate on why this movie sucks and why you should be avoiding it.

For starters, I am not a Christian. I have no problems with those who choose to have a little religion in their life, and there are plenty of movies with religious themes that I have enjoyed. However, I do not enjoy movies where religion is the entire focus of the film, and that was the case here. Little David, you see, is a devout Christian; he routinely takes breaks to pray and ask God for advice, the plot is solely pushed onwards by what God has told them to do during the last prayer break, and the people responsible for this movie did everything but cast God in an actual starring role. To be fair to Garris, I haven't read this particular book so I can't say if he was merely presenting the story as he read it or if he embellished this aspect of the movie more than he should have. Based on what I've read elsewhere, the original novel had plenty of religious themes throughout its pages as well, but I just can't see them being as ungodly annoying as this movie was.

On the positive side, I have to admit that the storyline was pretty intriguing when the cast wasn't taking prayer breaks. Nothing kills the flow of the movie deader than having everyone stop, hold hands, and ask God what they should be doing next, but I digress. There's an interesting storyline to be found buried under all that "God is great!" madness, but once again, the religious aspect ruins it. Even pushing aside the fact that I hated the constant praying and such, having the entire storyline pushed onwards by "God told us to go here" is shoddy storytelling at its worst. Even Scooby Doo and Shaggy required some kind of clues and hints in order to find out that the carnival owner was the one responsible for whatever hijinks was going on that day, but once again, everything is focused on God and how all-knowing he is.

As mentioned, there's some scraps of an interesting storyline to be found sprinkled throughout the running time, and as always, Ron Perlman is a treat to watch. The man is definitely one of the better actors working today, and his acting abilities here are no exception. Overall, however, this movie sucks. Avoid it. 3/10, and two of those are for Perlman alone.
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