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Needful Things

Year: 1993
Production Co: Castle Rock Entertainment
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Director: Fraser C Heston
Writer: W D Richter/Stephen King
Cast: Ed Harris, Bonnie Bedilia, Max Von Sydow, Amanda Plummer, J T Walsh

It's a Stephen King adaptation, so as usual it cherry picks the most visual moments from King's homage to Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes and leaves out all the miniscule human detail that gives stories heart.

Shopkeeper Leland Gaunt comes to town selling dreams, his collection of ratty wares eerily matching the lifelong desires of Castle Rock's residents – even ones as abstruse as relief from pain and suffering.

But if you know anything about Bradbury's original or Faust (on which it was loosely based – or at least heavily borrowed from), Gaunt is anything but benevolent. He expects payment from his customers and in the tradition of history's best-known conman (the fact that Gaunt is Satan is hinted at but never said), the price is corruption, mistrust and discord. Before long the Sheriff (Harris) finds his town wracked by feuds and violence as the townspeople turn on each other.

Even a tacked-on final reveal about how Gaunt's been around this block before and will again (telling the Sheriff he'll meet his son decades in the future) can't make up for what it's missing.

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