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SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK
DVD. Second Sight.

Sometimes They Come BackAppearing at the tail end of the 1980’s Stephen King boom that saw a couple of classics but far more workaday efforts like Children of the Corn, Christine and Cujo, Sometimes They Come Back was, like a number of films, based on a short story from the Nightshift collection. And like so many King adaptations, it’s not entirely awful, but is pretty throwaway.

The original story wasn’t one of King’s best to begin with – a schoolteacher returns to his home town where a childhood tragedy occurred, and finds his students are being killed and replaced by the ghosts of the teenage thugs who had murdered his brother. It was a tight, well crafted story, but perhaps less interesting than the others in the collection. But it was also one of those most clearly adaptable to feature film format.

This movie follows the basic plot of the story, but makes several changes, none of which are for the better – any ambiguity about the supernatural nature of the teen deaths is thrown out of the window immediately, as we see their car – belching flames from the back, would you believe? – chasing down kids. Worse still our hero Jim (Tim Matheson) sees it too, and the film toys with a subplot where he becomes a suspect in the deaths because he’s always around, acts strangely and knows too much – though this never really goes anywhere. Equally, the film changes the ending to a less satisfying version, alters the back story and – being a TV movie – effectively emasculates the horror of the original story.

Matheson seems fairly emotionless for such a tortured soul, while Brooke Adams, making her second King movie after Dead Zone, is wasted on a character who has little to do. Only twitchy, nervy William Sanderson, as the one hoodlum who had survived to reach middle age, is impressive.

In the end, Sometimes They Come Back is a passable time waster if you keep your expectations low, but ultimately is yet another King movie that fails to hit the mark.

LES DE MONZE

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