Chiller, Syfy's darker sister network, presents The Monkey's Paw, a TV movie inspired by the classic short story by W.W. Jacobs, which opens with a prologue that sounds like the closing moments from the renowned story, which would have been a lot cooler, but quickly the film establishes itself as it's own tale involving the talisman known as The Monkey's Paw that grants wishes though not quite the way the person who wished upon it intended. The opening prologue is a loose variation of events from the story, but it is not the exact closing moments that are heard and thus it just doesn't have the power of the original. In fact when the paw shows up the connection seems a bit unlikely since the power of the paw is so volatile. Can anyone live long possessing something so evil unscathed?
After young Jake (C.J. Thomason) accepts the paw from his former supervisor, he quickly finds his world turned upside down. His coworker Tony Cobb (Stephen Lang) covets the paw for himself and consequently events related to Jake's first wish lead to the death and resurrection of Cobb. Malevolent Undead Cobb demands Jake reunite him with his son and places all Jake cares about in jeopardy if he doesn't get what he wants.
This Chiller original film features good performances from Stephen Lang, who delivers exactly the kind of performance one expects, mixing a degree of pathos to his characterization to bring out a good sense of tragedy. Cobb is not the nicest guy, but he is really more or less a victim in this film and so he succumbs to his darker side more out of supernatural influence and madness than an initial desire to just hurt others. Under the influence of alcohol he is capable of committing acts of violence, but he can be carefully talked down. Returning from the dead unleashes any inhibitions he may have had that kept him from being a totally evil man.
Other film stars include Charles S. Dutton in a supporting role. The sad thing about the execution of the film is it never exudes any fear or feeling of dread or impending doom. I think a straight forward adaptation of the original short story would have been much better. As it is the feels like one of those straight to videos to a Stephen King film or miniseries adaptation that shares little to no connection to the source material other than the title.
The Monkey's Paw will debut on Chiller on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 9pm. Please check your local listings for channel on your cable, fiber optic or satellite television provider.
(C) Copyright 2013 By Mark Rivera
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