The Dead Zone (1983)
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A crafty thriller with an interesting premise. The supernatural angle, Walken's convincing performance and Cronenberg's mostly tense direction all make for a good thriller, but there is a lull in the plot half way where nothing much is happening and even though the movie picks up some steam towards the end - the overall feel of the movie is that it is good, but also that it struggles with some disjoninted pacing.
I found myself pretty pleased with this film. Walken is on the top of his game, and the emotional scenes are handled well. However, I think the writers should've dialed back on the Stephen King-ness. It easily could've done without the
serial killer subplot, which derails the pacing (as Zeltaebar mentioned), and I don't think enough time is dedicated to Johnny's struggle. I think they should've introduced Martin Sheen's character earlier on, and had Johnny dealt with those challenges for a longer period of time. It feels as though they were more focused on adapting more things from the book, rather than making it work as a movie. I think they should've made it more character-centric, rather than story. I think that, because of this, it comes off as a bit more bland than it should've, especially with the fantastic premise. Still, the relationships between the characters are well-developed, and the more intense scenes are great all-around (Cronenberg's directing shines throughout, though especially in these scenes). All-in-all, an engrossing thriller that I'd definitely recommend.
1983: First scene; Walken's character gives his class an assignment, which is to read 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'.
1999: Walken plays the Headless Horseman in Tim Burton's 'Sleepy Hollow'.
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