Book vs Movie: The Dark Half by Stephen King

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Been a while since I did one of these. Haven’t been too good at planning things out and sticking to a regular publishing schedule. Hopefully, in this new year that will change. This post only came about because I was gifted the matching set, book and DVD, of The Dark Half. Probably because this is an older one, I hadn’t read it yet, still working my way through Kings back catalog.

I have to say even for Stephen King, this story is pretty fucken bonkers. Writer Thad Beaumont kills off his crime novel writing pen name George Stark before it can be exposed by a creep looking for a payday. However, George was always more than just a name and becomes his own complete living and breathing person just in time to fight for his right to exist. He digs himself out of his imaginary grave to go on a killing spree, targeting anyone involved in his demise, naturally saving Thad for last. I enjoyed the book, it’s pretty dark and damn suspenseful. And very obviously inspired by King’s own life, at least partly. However, it leaves so many unanswered questions. There’s an implied connection to Thad’s absorbed twin and references to folklore involving sparrows as a link between the land of the dead and living. But there’s never really an explanation for George’s physical manifestation. As much as I enjoyed the story I was left wanting more. But I guess ending with the mystery is better than a half-hearted attempt that tanks the whole story.

With George Romero directing, Timothy Hutton as Thad, and Michael Rooker as Sheriff Pangborn, I was expecting a lot from the movie before it even started. It pretty much lived up to expectations. About the first third of the movie sticks pretty close to the story from the novel, switching around a couple scenes and condensing things down a bit. Then it veers off and goes in a slightly different direction. We get a slight attempt at applying some logic to George’s appearance, but it didn’t add much to the story. One major difference was the intense focus on Thad and George, most of the other characters fade into the background. Hutton was great as both. I like that Thad is portrayed a bit darker the movie, it’s a bit of foreshadowing early on to the reveal of George Stark. I wish Rooker had more screentime but, but Sheriff Pangborn’s role in the movie was dramatically reduced. I’d say it was a good movie, but the story still feels very hard to believe.

This is a hard one. I enjoyed both but it really felt like there was something missing in both. There are too many holes in the story, it takes a lot of suspended disbelief to buy into it. Since I have to pick one, I’d go with the book. The characters actions and leaps of logic in the movie are a little too far-fetched. The way things unfold in the novel comes across a tad bit more realistic, at least enough to make it more enjoyable.

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