Quick-Thoughts: David Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone (1983)

Hmm, I’d say it’s at least top 5 best Stephen King adaptations that involve a tragic truck accident. 

Despite The Dead Zone being only 104 minutes long, it feels more like a mini-series than a feature-length; there were like five different climaxes and initiating premises being pirouetted around this main character’s life! Granted, this is an adaptation of a Stephen King novel, so when does his elongated stories ever not feel more episodic than cinematic? David Cronenberg’s surprisingly tamer than usual feature-length adaptation follows a teacher played by Christopher Walken who wakes up from a five-year coma with new, psychic abilities to see into the past or future of any person he touches.

When God gives you a special duty, do you fulfill it at the sacrifice of your own happiness or do you blame it for the failure of the life you had before? Is it natural, or the intention of the giver to want to see their prophets suffer or is it a necessary step in order for them to succeed? The Dead Zone plays with the well-known idea of determinism, yet it begs the opposing ideology that if the opportunity to break destiny was at hand, should you or should you not act upon it? Is it more wrong to whisk your life away at the help of others or more wrong to burden your own life with a power you never wanted in the first place? Or, can that power become a new destiny to you, maybe not as preferable as the one you had before, but enough to mildly satisfy both the front and the ladder? STEPHEN KING’S LOVE FOR SUPERHERO DRAMA HAS BEEN EXPOSED! OMG! 

At times, I did kind of hate the dialogue in this; it’s very awkwardly expositional with its themes when it’s so obvious that it doesn’t need to be given Cronenberg’s already competent visual storytelling. The plot is kind of all over the place too with its cramming of hefty events and coincidences to end segments quicker than one would prefer. Nonetheless, I think the spirit of philosophy that this film was going for — while familiar and overdone now in this day in age — still overcame these very apparent flaws. This isn’t even near the level of the two previous Cronenberg movies I have watched, The Fly and Videodrome, but I certainly still like it! 

Verdict: B-

David Cronenberg Ranked

“The Dead Zone” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

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