John Lee Hancock adapts the Stephen King short story to the screen and gives us a thoughtful rumination on technology, life, forgiveness, and letting go.
Jaeden Martell returns to the King-verse this time as young Craig, a student, a young man who is dealing with the death of his mother, navigating the world of high school, and life. He has fostered a relationship with rich, reclusive, Mr. Harrigan (Donald Sutherland).
Harrigan was a bit of a rough-edged businessman, but as he’s aged, he’s begun to lose some of his sight and would like Craig to read to him a few times a week. Over the years the pair grow close and when Craig starts high school he realizes he needs a cellphone to fit in with some of the crowds.
He also ends up getting one for Harrigan and shows the man how it works, and while Harrigan isn’t a fan of the technology, pontificates on how these little gizmos are dangerous and are dumbing us down. He’s not wrong, but the message he delivered is a little on the nose and with hindsight, we can realize how right he was in the things he mentions.
When Harrigan dies, Craig is a little out of sorts, and in a sentimental but definitely creepy move, he tucks Harrigan’s phone into the dead man’s coat pocket before he’s buried.
As life goes on, Craig needs someone to talk to, to confide in, and he leaves messages and texts for Harrigan, almost as a form of therapy, but things take a spooky turn when they are answered by texts and payoffs in the world around him.
It’s not a scary or terrifying film, it’s a spooky one, and leaves you wondering about our ties to technology, each other, grief, loss, and knowing when to let go.
The shooting locations, Connecticut, and not Maine as the story would have you believe, are gorgeous, and feel like a King story brought to life as we join Craig on the edges of Castle Lake, a place a number of fans will know.
The story idea is a scary one, but Hancock and King’s tale finds a much more dramatic side and gives us a character piece that is about coming-of-age. So as long as you don’t go in expecting a scary ghost story, but instead a dramatic film tinged with a little supernatural flair, then you may very well enjoy this one.