Updated: Oct 14, 2021
David Cronenberg does Stephen King proud with another of the great adaptations of his work (Christine was another one from the same year).
Christopher Walken is at his most sympathetic as Johnny Smith, a teacher who develops the ability to see into the future after a car accident & 5 years in a coma.
The film then becomes a series of vignettes where he saves the life of a child, helps catch a serial killer (complete with a brutal scissor eating) and finally becomes entwined with Martin Sheen’s future nuke-happy politician Greg Stillson. Through it all, Johnny is repeatedly drawn back to his former fiancé Sarah, who has since moved on and started a family during his convalescence.
Cronenberg crafts a chilling but affecting horror drama that details Johnny’s plight with sensitivity, as we follow a man whose life has been permanently upended, even though his gift ultimately gives him a purpose that leads to the tragic ending.
It’s one of the notoriously cold filmmakers most brazenly emotional films as well as one of Walken’s most likeable (& relatively normal) performances. The Dead Zone is a fairly low-key film compared to the other bigger name titles in the King cinematic universe but it’s also one of the best.
4.5 scissor stabs out of 5.