Based on a short novel by W.W. Jacobs, The Monkey’s Paw details the bloody mayhem that ensues after C.J. Thomson’s Jake Tilton gets his hands on the title artifact – with the item promising three wishes to its possessor. (It’s no surprise to learn that Jake’s wishes go horribly awry.) The setup seems to promise a fun, fast-paced horror flick somewhere along the lines of the Leprechaun and Wishmaster series, and yet scripter Macon Blair instead opts for an almost astonishingly generic approach that rarely (if ever) exploits the larger-than-life premise to satisfactory effect. It’s disappointing, surely, given the strength of the movie’s early scenes and the initial appearance of the supernatural paw, as filmmaker Brett Simmons does a nice job, in the film’s opening stretch, of establishing the story’s plot and array of quirky of supporting characters (which includes Stephen Lang’s Tony Cobb and an unrecognizable Corbin Bleu as Catfish). The narrative starts its downward spiral, then, once Jake uses a wish to bring close friend Tony back from the dead, with The Monkey’s Paw, past that point, devolving into an increasingly tedious (and frustratingly repetitive) thriller detailing both Tony’s transformation into a murderous, zombie-like figure and a local cop’s ensuing investigation into the killings. It goes without saying, ultimately, that one’s interest in all this dwindles considerably as the anticlimactic conclusion approaches, with the end result a disappointingly half-baked horror endeavor that could (and should) have been much, much better.
* out of ****