Why Adapting Stephen King’s Work is the Right Way to Go When it Comes to the Horror Genre
Part one of a journal by Filip Terlecki – Writer and Director of the upcoming Stephen King adaptation “Suffer the Little Children”
I have always been attracted to complicated story characters. The characters from The Godfather; Michael Corleone, Sonny, Tom Hagen and Fredo rank among the best. But then who could forget Clint Eastwood’s Blondie (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), Heath Ledger’s Joker (The Dark Knight), Alan Rickman’s baddie Hans Gruber (Die Hard) and Louise Fletcher as the infamous Nurse Ratched (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Heck, add Jack Nicholson’s performance in that film as well.
Undoubtedly it’s the one-two punch of a great script complemented by a great performance that makes a character memorable.
When it comes to horror, vivid, multi-layered, contradictory characters make the stories that much better. They add a level of realism that makes the inevitable terror much more frightening.
I think that horror is most scary when it comes from a real place – a place that you recognize. Horror needs to be grounded in realism so that the audience develops an emotional connection with what they see. And, subsequently, as dread ensues we are frightened by the chilling disruption of the familiar.
This is the reason why The Exorcist consistently ranks at the top of the scariest movie polls. Director William Friedkin’s documentary-influenced direction matched with the fact that the story itself is based on real-life events just scares the hell out of us.
Personally, I’ll take a movie like Silence of the Lambs over torture porn like what we see in Hostel any day.
Stephen King is a master of creating intriguing characters – especially female ones – and his fearsome femmes rank among the most recognized psychopaths; just think Annie Wilkes (Misery) or Carrie White (Carrie).
This was one of the reasons why adapting the short story Suffer the Little Children to screen was so appealing to me.
First published in men’s magazine Cavalier in 1972 (and later re-published as part of the 1993 collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes), Suffer the Little Children tells the story of seasoned school teacher Miss Sidley who begins to lose her bearings when she suspects that one of her young students, Robert, is not human.
There’s good reason why Stephen King’s work has been adapted to screen so many times. The man writes in a very cinematic way; everything is so clear and vivid but complex enough for a filmmaker to add his own interpretation.
The character of Miss Sidley is a fascinating one. There’s a lot going on in her mind and this summer we plan to put it all on screen. Along with Producer Carmelo Giardina and a dedicated team of young and talented filmmakers, I’ll do my best to do justice to this memorable Stephen King character.
By the way – what’s your top 5 list of the most memorable horror movie characters?
Follow Filip Terlecki on Twitter @filipterlecki