1998; Rated R; 111 Minutes
Ian McKellen: Kurt Dussander
Brad Renfro: Todd Bowden
Bruce Davidson: Richard Bowden
Elias Koteas: Archie
Joe Morton: Dan Richler
Produced by Tom DeSanto,
Jane Hamsher, Tim Harvert, Don Murphy, John Ottman, Jay
Shapird and Bryan Singer; Directed by Bryan Singer;
Screenwritten by Brandon Boyce and Stephen King
by DAVID KEYES
Pupil is about as great as a modern Stephen King horror
flick could get. There are moments in the film of such intrigue
and fascination that it was almost tempting to let the movie
pass with flying colors, a fate which it did not accomplish
in the end.
most things were well worth the money, but isnít the scenario
of the holocaust a little inappropriate for this type of
genre? After all, this is something that really happened,
and trying to make it into a movie using the standard shock-fest
put on by Stephen King as the backdrop doesnít sound like
a good idea.
perhaps it is a good idea. Since the holocaust was an event
of such beastly horrors, what better way to witness them
than in a movie based on a novella by one of the worlds
most notorious authors?
so fast. Sometimes horror movies can be too savage. Apt
Pupil reaches that point so often that it canít be appreciated
at the level of other Stephen King films, like Dolores
Claiborne. But the difference from these two movies
is the historical factor. Dolores Claiborne was pure
fiction. Using the holocaust as sort of an atmosphere for
the standard set of shocks provided by Mr. King, Apt
Pupil stays true to the nature of the historical facts,
but the whole concept turns somewhat sour when the Nazi
war criminal played by Ian McKellen develops a frenzy to
cook cats alive in his oven. Whatís worse, the teenage boy,
whom he shares his war stories with, develops Nazism tendencies.
still, Apt Pupil is not bad, probably due to itís
respectful efforts of telling a logical, fascinating story.
Brad Renfro plays a teenage boy named Todd Bowden, who watches
closely one of his neighbors who has the features and aspects
of a wanted Nazi war criminal. Studying the holocaust in
high school, he jumps at the chance to have Kurt Dussander,
played by McKellen, tell him the stories of the holocaust
himself, since, after all, no one can tell them better than
the plot thickens. When Dussander almost refuses to do so,
Bowden threatens to turn him over to the police, since he
is, of course, still a wanted criminal.
Dussander is backed into a corner. With no back-up plan
to the boyís reactions, he tells him the eyewitness accounts
of the devastating mass murders influenced by the Naziís
during that horrible holocaust.
describes his stories with intense detail. In one unforgettable
sequence, he speaks of how the Jews attempted to climb out
of their gas chambers at Auschwitz, yet the actual gas hoses
were at the top of the chamber, basically permitting the
Jews to die quicker than they would have by staying put
on the ground.
follow on and on, and eventually, Bowden begins the grave
mistake of inheriting these Nazi aspects just as Dussander
tells them. He slowly, and assuredly, develops their tendencies,
to where even the Nazi war criminal begins fearing him.
And so the tables turn, and the kid is now the antagonist
of the picture. But heck, thatís probably the way it has
to be. Where else could a horror movie go, anyways?
at a time when the recent Stephen King film adaptations
feel completely forgettable, Apt Pupil offers a perspective
and treat that stand clear of anything similar. Itís a worthy
movie to Kingís name, and, most likely, a winner for anyone
whoíd like to be scared at the theater this season. And
we thought winter was going to be cold.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.