Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Castle Rock Companion - The Revelations of Becka Paulson

This short story is a fairly unique case.  It started out in 1984 as its own stand alone short story about a woman who believes a picture of Jesus is telling her to kill her husband.  King later incorporated it into his novel The Tommyknockers in 1987, where Becka is now one of the residents of Haven being affected by the titular creatures.  But the original story was also adapted into an episode of The Outer Limits in 1997.

Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of the original story.  If the episode is anything to go by, Becka starts having her visions when she accidentally shoots herself in the head.  The bullet lodges there and leaves a hole, but it doesn't kill her so she just covers it up with a band aid.

What's interesting is that a lot of the abilities the Tommyknockers bestow upon the residents of Haven are the same as what the bullet gives Becka.  She gains knowledge about what other people around her are doing, she learns how to upgrade technology around the house, often with the use of batteries to increase the power.  The main change for the episode is that instead of Jesus, it's "the 8x10 man."  Apparently Becka was so taken with the man in the picture that came with her 8x10 frame that she never put an actual picture inside it. It's a pretty funny idea, but I like the idea of it being Jesus better.  It creates a better internal conflict for Becka when he's telling her awful things and she doesn't know whether or not to listen to him.

The episode is forty minutes long, and I feel like the story probably could have been told better in half the time.  Wife has accident, wife has visions and realizes her husband is cheating, designs a crazy way to kill him.  It's simple enough that we don't need the diversion of her going to a vet to inspect the hole in her head or watching her husband play poker with his buddies.  The poker game at least comes from the original story (or at least how it's present in the novel) but the vet visit seems to be added in for humor.  And admittedly, it's bizarre enough to work well, it just feels unnecessary.

While not great, the episode is at least worth a watch thanks to Catherine O'Hara's performance as Becka and Steven Weber's appearance as the 8x10 man.  This is also the first time where Weber also directed a King adaptation, and only one of two directing credits he currently has to his name.  As of right now it's also free to watch via Hulu, so what do you have to lose?

Overall, I think King made the right move in incorporating the story in with all the other odd things that happen in Haven.  On its own the story doesn't quite have enough meat to be interesting.

Becka's story is also adapted within The Tommyknockers mini-series.  There she is played by the adorable Allyce Beasley, and is made a deputy so that they can introduce her into the story a little earlier.  In  this case it's the host of a dating show on her television that turns to her and starts telling her the truth.  Her husband's fate is the same, but here Becka gets committed rather than killing herself after she realizes what she has done to him.  It's just a small footnote in the larger events that are happening in the town, and for the most part it works.  I think the image of someone in a straight jacket in a padded room singing softly to themselves is a little cliche at this point, but otherwise I enjoyed this version.

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