Storm of the Century

"Give me what I want and I will go away" are the words repeated again and again by Andre Linoge (Colm Feore) in Stephen King's Storm of the Century. Most of the time Linoge repeats it, there's usually a gruesome death of some kind, to back up his "request". The problem is that this sequence becomes repetitive after a while. The number of deaths could've been reduced by more than half, the pacing tightened, and with some judicious editing, the six TV hours of the film could've easily been reduced to two.

However, if you have that much time to spare, Storm of the Century is worth watching. This is apparently one of the rare times that a movie has been released before the book is published, and while I'm not sure what the book is like, the movie appears as though it was derived from a King short story (à la Apt Pupil): The plot is simple and non-convoluted, and the only thing separating the conclusion from the introduction is how much fear Linoge must induce before he can be certain he will get what he wants.

The story is told from the point of view of Mike Anderson (Tim Daly), the constable of Little Tall Island, a small Maine town. During the "storm of the century", Anderson and the residents of Little Tall come across Linoge (which is an anagram for (Satan's) Legion) and his wolf-headed cane. Linoge appears to know a dark secret about everyone in town: the constable who cheated on his exam to get through college, the pregnant girlfriend having an abortion without telling her boyfriend, and the town manager not being around his mother when she dies because he's having an affair. This aspect of the movie is what really works and is what King excels best at---assigning each character a dark side and bringing it out in a cynical and sarcastic manner. Linoge is superior to the townspeople in terms of raw (mystical) power and there are plenty of chills and thrills as he exercises it. Finally, the townspeople are faced with a choice: the threat of destruction or giving into Linoge's demands. The ending is classic King: there is no neat resolution and no tidying up of the loose threads, which in my view is how good horror should be.

During the movie, we discussed the ethical implication of the choice that the people are faced with when Linoge finally tells them what he wants. Hopefully without giving away too much of the plot, I will say that principles matter more than my life or even the lives of a whole town. In this particular case, since giving Linoge what he wants would only perpetuate the kind of behaviour the residents of Little Tall are subject to, I'd argue it is the wrong thing to do.

The acting is pretty terrible for the most part, almost as if Stephen King decided to use all his neighbours instead of hiring professional actors. The one exception is Feore who makes for a great villain. King has a fondness for short nonsensical rhymes and there are plenty of them here: "born in lust, turn to dust" and "born in sin, come on in." But they fail to evoke any sort of a deep emotional reaction as they did in, say, The Tommyknockers. Storm of the Century is worth watching if you can fast forward through the boring parts and become King's editor-in-chief. If King keeps this poorly-editing long-winded story telling up, you'll find me saying "give me what I want or I will leave."

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala ||