Wednesday, October 05, 2005

31 Days of Des' Horror Favourites: #27 Apt Pupil

Why I like it: One of the very few Stephen King works to come across well in film, Apt Pupil remains one of the more believable of the horror stories I have supplied for you in this list.

While it retains little of the novella’s bite it still carries a tone of darkness through the film. It oddly seems sentimentally shot with a lot of bright scenes of suburban America. And it is a squeaky clean portrayal of suburban America that is the home of young Todd (Brad Renfro). That is, until he discovers his neighbour is a Nazi war criminal now living under the name of Arthur Denker (Ian McKellan).

Todd blackmails Denker into relating to him his experience of concentration camps and what it was like to kill so many innocent people in exchange for his silence. The interactions soon begin to have an impact on the boy and his family and friends begin to become suspicious. His personality takes to Dussander (Denker’s real name) and he even helps cover up one of his murders.

It’s a cat and mouse psychological thriller where the ball seems to bounce back and forth to each character’s court several times. Bryan Singer did this well with Usual Suspects and does it again here.

It can’t hold a candle to the King story but it is a good film in its own right. McKellan’s performance is stellar as usual and even Renfro is tolerable.

Check these out:
-Gods and Monsters-Ian McKellan in another “real life” tale but this time the “student” is Brendan Fraser. Not a horror film but McKellan plays the director of Bride of Frankenstein in an amazing film.
-Silence of the Lambs-The cat and mouse mind games are slightly reminiscent of Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster’s relationship in this film.

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