Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Castle Rock Companion - Dolan's Cadillac


This is not a particularly good short story.  The core idea is strong enough - a man wants revenge on a rich man who killed his wife and got away with it.  He plans to do so by burying the man alive in his own Cadillac.  The problem is all in the details, the painstaking descriptions King guides us through to explain just exactly how this third grade teacher pulls off the murder.  To be quite honest, I don't care.  It's an interesting method, to tear up a stretch of road, put a false front in its place, and lead the Cadillac in before burying it under dirt and gravel, but I'm not really interested in the various tools he has to use to do it, or the dimensions of the hole he has to dig.  It really bogs down the story.  It also guarantees that a film based on this story is going to have to undergo a lot of changes to make it something worth watching.

The people responsible for adapting the story clearly understood that.  King left the details of why Dolan killed his wife vague, so the movie fleshes it out for us.  Dolan's main profession is human trafficking, and she sees a truck full of women who are first badly mistreated and then flat out killed or buried alive once things go wrong.  Dolan then leaves one of the corpses on their bed, with her finger sown near her lips in a "Sh!" gesture.  It's really quite creepy and helps to both make  you understand why she wouldn't want to back down, and understand why her husband Tom wants them to just leave and run away.

Dolan is played by Christian Slater here, and I had a hard time really accepting him in the role for most of the film.  He was playing it a little too over the top at times and I just wasn't buying it.  He does do very well once he's stuck down in the hole though, when that intensity is necessary and works really well.  Wes Bentley plays Tom and he does a decent job of portraying a man who is slowly unraveling and bent on revenge.

The movie not only downplayed the various technical details involved in pulling off his plan, they also downplayed just how much the action really wrecks Tom's body.  Part of that is because the Tom in the story is a much older man, but I would imagine they also didn't necessarily want to show us his skin burned and cracked among the other gross details King describes in the story.  They use montages when he's training to use the equipment and again when he's preparing for Dolan's arrival, so it doesn't seem as difficult a task as it was in the story.  Another thing they largely removed was Tom hearing his wife urge him on through all of it.  He does see images of her occasionally, but I would have liked to see a representation of the way she seems to almost manipulate him.  Whether it is really her ghost or his madness, it was a nice touch in the story.

When the movie comes down to just Tom and Dolan, it works really well, keeping up the tension. They change a few details but I think it works as both a modern update to the story and simply adding a visual flair that you can't have in written form.  They also kept in the reference to "The Cask of Amontillado" which I thought was really nice.

This film was a direct to video release, so it's not very well known and probably a little hard to find.  But I do recommend checking it out if you can.  It's a decent thriller and a well thought out adaptation.

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