Needful Things

Pop Needful Things into your player with no particular expectations and you might find it a worthwhile distraction. The Stephen King novel it’s based on is no great shakes anyway — just Salem’s Lot with the Devil instead of vampires. Director Fraser Heston (son of you-know-who) basically turns the camera on and off; the real talent here is screenwriter W.D. Richter (Buckaroo Banzai), who trims the fat from King’s novel and preserves its best qualities as a black comedy of revenge. Leland Gaunt (Max von Sydow, having fun) comes to sleepy Castle Rock and opens the titular antiques store, which gives its customers what they “need” in return for “pranks.” See it for J.T. Walsh, the late great character actor who had one of his best roles as a weaselly selectman who falls under Gaunt’s thrall. Released in theaters (and on DVD) at 120 minutes, the movie has been shown on TV in an expanded three-hour version.

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