Needful Things (1993) Review


Needful Things (1993)


“Everybody that’s got it coming is gonna get it now!”


Needful Things is based on a Stephen King novel of the same name so this will either be amazing or utter drivel.

Ed Harris stars as the town of Castle Rocks (also the name of one the companies that made the film) Sheriff when Leland Gaunt, played by Max von Sydow, moves to the town and opens an antique shop called Needful things.

Here he always has something you want but you don’t pay just with money but with favours too. It seems Leland is intent on causing as much trouble in the town as possible which makes sense or we wouldn’t have an much of a film.

So once in the shop and having fallen under the charms of Leland, all he needs now is for them to touch the item which results with an appropriate flashback for the person to buy the object but more importantly to do whatever favour asked of them.

All this leads to existing grievances between people become deadly and at the end an entire town rioting and half blown up.

Most of this whilst over-the-top at times works within the confines of this story and I include the knife fight between two middle-aged women that takes place all through the house of one of them.

Seriously it might be the best scene of the whole film.

But while most work some don’t like when the sheriffs fiancee comes under Lelands spell and cheats on him. Immediately after she believes lies against the sheriff and promptly dumps him without hearing what he has to say but her indiscretions are kept secret from him when they reconcile. I know this is a popular lazy trope in films yet all the other main characters face some sort of consequence for their actions.
Of course this is nothing compared to Danforth ‘Buster’ Keaton played by J.T. Walsh who is the towns villain. He becomes a cartoon villain at the end which doesn’t fit the light but serious tone when it comes to the inhabitants and their ‘favours’.
Even in his cartoon villain mode he commits an unspeakable act against his wife but this is treated more like a joke and by the very end he becomes sort of the hero.
Like Leland points out how everyone needs to take their share of responsibility for their actions but everyone is willing to absolve Buster of his completely.

These seem out of place but don’t detract too much. The final confrontation within the town just keeps escalating in that wonderful 80s-90s way American films do that maybe I should be more critical about but as American films do not tend to do this much these days I loved it.
Ed Harris really shines here when berating the town as does Max von Sydow but he shines throughout anyway.

I liked it but this isn’t a masterpiece. More a slightly bigger budgeted TV movie than a feature film with a decent cast and decent performances.

This trailer however is very poorly made and makes the film seem like something by Joe Dante.

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