Judge Daryl Loomis looks super classy with his alligator foot necklace.
One wish. A thousand regrets.
As one of the most adapted stories in horror, it isn't a particularly enticing prospect to see another version of W.W. Jacobs' 1902 short story, "The Monkey's Paw." I can't imagine there's much more to say it; be careful what you wish for and all that, but the lesson has already been learned. Luckily, this version of the classic story isn't a direct adaptation, but almost a sequel of sorts.
Things suck at the factory, and they get even worse when newly promoted foreman Jake Tilton (C.J. Thomason, Sutures) makes a mistake on a shipment and gets his older buddy, Gillespie (Daniel Hugh Kelly, Chill Factor), fired for the mistake. That night, he's at the bar with Cobb (Stephen Lang, Avatar), the smart mouth from the factory, when he sees Gillespie sulking in the corner. When he goes to apologize, Jake gets a weird story from him about a monkey's paw his dad once gave him and how it grants wishes. As a joke, Jake wishes for a sweet car and, suddenly, the paw belongs to him. He has two more and had better make them count, because each wish comes with consequences.
There is a brief mention of the original scenario from the Jacobs story, but it's only in passing as history, which makes this version something like the further adventures of the paw, a move that I liked about the middle-era Hellraiser sequels. I don't know that it works as effectively in The Monkey's Paw because there are too many direct parallels to the original story, but it's still different enough to make it feel like its own thing.
Brett Simmons (Husk), directing from a script by Macon Blair, horrors it up quite a bit. Like in the story, there's a death and a wish for the character's return. Rather than stopping there, which the story essentially does, Simmons turns the risen man into a pretty traditional slasher villain, a sort of cross between a zombie and Horace Pinker from Shocker. The extension basically works; there isn't a lot of suspense to the story and there's some family stuff thrown in for no good reason, but it's an ably directed and decently performed horror entry.
The Monkey's Paw arrives from Shout! Factory in a decent Blu-ray release. The 1.78:1/1080p image transfer is mostly good, with good looking colors and detail, at least in the brighter scenes. The darker stuff is lacking some of that detail and definition, but the black levels are pretty solid. The sound is decent, as well, with a full sounding Master Audio surround mix. Dialog is always clear and there's a decent amount of work in the surround channels, but it's nothing special.
The limited slate of extras begins with an audio commentary featuring Simmons, Thomason, and cinematographer Scott Wing. It's pretty standard stuff, production stories and praise and all that, but they're proud of their work and excited to talk about it. The making-of featurette is a fifteen-minute piece that covers much of the same territory. A trailer rounds out the disc.
The Monkey's Paw isn't anything particularly special, but I like that Simmons and company tried to do something a little different with a classic story. Decent performances with nothing particularly offensive about it warrant, at least for horror fans, a very mild recommendation.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
Review content copyright © 2014 Daryl Loomis; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.