#149 -- Riding the Bullet (2004)

Director: Mick Garris
Rating: 3/5

First of all, I'd like to say that I was destined not to like this movie. Or at least I thought so. In the end, it turned out that it wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be. It wasn't wonderful, but it wasn't completely terrible either. The story is absolutely wonderful. I thought so when I read the short story by Stephen King. You see, Stephen King is my idol, my hero. In my opinion, he is the greatest storyteller in the history of storytelling. There are only a few movies based on his work that I really enjoy, and this was not one of them. But I'm a nice person, so I'm not going to bash it, because I realize that it really wasn't all that bad.

Set it 1969, it's about a college art student named Alan who was obsessed with death. And I mean really obsessed; it's all he could ever think about. He was planning a trip to Canada with his friends, to see the legend John Lennon. His plans changed when he received a phone call stating that his mother had a stroke and was staying in the hospital. Rather than have a good time with his friends, he wanted to go check on his mother. The thing was, she was far away and he didn't have a car. So he decided to hitch it. He caught rides with a couple of creepy characters on the way, and he ditched them as soon as he could. One man even offered to take him all the way to the hospital doorstep, but he was too freaked out by the man to accept the offer. He had many hallucinations during his journey, and death seemed to follow him. He saw a car accident that killed a man; he saw a bunny being devoured by a large dog, and then that dog being taken out by a semi truck. He was obsessed with death, and death seemed to be obsessed with him too. To take a break from walking, he went into a cemetery where he saw a grave that unsettled him. The man, George Staub, died on his birthday, and the quote on the grave was the same as one that his mother liked to say. This told him that, without a doubt, his mother was dead, so he decided to take the next ride with no questions. Unfortunately, the next person to pick him up was none other than George Staub himself. George acted sort of like the grim reaper. I don't know if he was an angel, a ghost, a zombie, whatever. He was a collector, I guess. He gave Alan a choice of who he would take with him. He could save his mother by giving his own life, or he could walk away and let his mother die. He tried to run away from Staub, but of course, no one can run from death.

You might be wondering, what's all this got to do with riding a bullet? The Bullet was a theme park ride that Alan was terrified of riding as a child. George Staub made conversation about it during their ride, and he had a button on his jacket from the ride. In this case, The Bullet symbolizes death. We're all afraid of riding the bullet, but we've all got to at some point. So who did Alan choose? Did he sacrifice himself, or did he walk away carrying the greatest of regrets? Who ended up riding the bullet?

Watching these movies is worse for me if I do so right after I read the book/story. Since everything is still fresh in my mind, I find more things wrong with the movie. It's been a while since I read Riding the Bullet, so I don't remember every little detail, and it seems like it's fairly well done. It is a well made movie with good actors (David Arquette played George Staub and, I wouldn't believe it if you told me, but he actually succeeded in being pretty damn creepy) and some good special effects. The biggest problem I had were the hallucination scenes. They just seemed weird and out of place to me. That, and everything happened way too fast. These are just things that are better suited for the written word, written by the King himself. This movie didn't give me the same feeling as the story did; I can remember that much.

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