Be careful what you wish for, it may just plague you for the rest of your life— and very possibly, well beyond that. Filmmaker Ricky Lewis, Jr.’s 30-minute adaptation of W.W. Jacobs’ short story of 1902 may not be the first, or even the last, cinematic interpretation of this classic of the same name, but as horror films go, I think it’s the best.
For those who may not be aware of this frightening little gem, “The Monkey’s Paw” is a moral tale about the ramifications of greed. It’s a simple plot, really, with a tiny cast of characters. Three of these are family members: Mr. and Mrs. White (Josh Burns and Rosemary Gearheart)—and their 20-something son named Herbert (Matt Knudsen). The Whites live an ordinary, but contented, life in a small village in the English countryside. Herbert works at a nearby sawmill, where he adroitly handles dangerous machinery on a daily basis. One day the Whites are paid a rare visit by Mr. White’s old friend, Sgt. Major Morris (Robert Stilwell).
Once part of the British Army situated in India, Morris is every bit exciting as Mr. White is mundane— replete with the legends of far off lands, and the superstitions of mysterious faqirs. It is when the macabre Sgt. Major warily surrenders an extraordinary relic to Mr. White— namely, a mummified monkey’s paw empowered to grant three wishes—that the lives of White and his family are forever changed.
What makes Lewis, Jr’s screen adaptation so brilliant is the film’s escalating suspense and the encrypted, psychological studies of every principal and minor character within. Juxtaposing these are the multi-talented filmmaker’s magnificent cinematic landscapes and an original score that would make the great Bernard Herrmann proud. All I can say is please find a way to see this rendition of “The Monkey’s Paw” as soon as possible. It will definitely cause you to think twice before you wish for that special something, or someone, ever again.
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