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Riding the Bullet (May 22/05)

With Dreamcatcher and now Riding the Bullet, it seems clear that the majority of Stephen King's post-accident writing just isn't filmable. This is particularly true here, as we're presented with a story that generally doesn't make a bit of sense.

Jonathan Jackson stars as Alan Parker, a '60s-era hippie who must hitchhike his way across the country after learning that his mother (played by Barbara Hershey) has had a stroke. Along the way, Alan finds himself confronted with a variety of disconcerting visions and imagined happenings - leading to an encounter with a demon named George Straub (David Arquette), who forces him to make an impossible choice.

Because the majority of Riding the Bullet's first hour is dominated by a vibe of utter pointlessness, the relatively engaging third act is effectively rendered moot. It's impossible to work up any enthusiasm for the intriguing aspects in the film's screenplay after being forced to sit through sequence after sequence of Alan either imagining things that aren't there or literally talking to himself (he's followed around by a hallucinatory doppelganger). Though director Mick Garris attempts to liven things up with brief moments of style and star Jackson is actually quite strong in the central role, there's virtually nothing here for the viewer to latch onto. What's worse, the movie is just tedious; there doesn't seem to be a point to any of this, although things do admittedly start to make a bit more sense as the story draws to a close (but it's far too late to care by then).

It's likely that King was hopped up on some serious drugs when he wrote this trippy, nonsensical tale; I can't say whether or not this actually worked on the page, but there's no denying that it's wholly ineffective as a 98-minute film.

out of

About the DVD: Riding the Bullet receives the special edition treatment from Maple Pictures, along with a crisp letterboxed transfer (the DVD is also labeled as being the "uncut version," which is probably just a marketing ploy as there's virtually no gore in the film). Among the supplemental materials are a pair of commentary tracks, a collection of behind-the-scenes featurettes, an artwork gallery, and a trailer.