Book to Movie: The End of the Whole Mess (2006)
Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King
Teleplay by Larry Cohen
Directed by Mikael Salomon
Based on the Stephen King short story from the collection, Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Two veterans of bringing Stephen King to the screen came together and created this hour long television show based on one of the better works from King’s 1993 collection of short stories.
Cohen was the first man to take King from the book to the screen, penning the script for the Brian DePalma film version of Carrie in 1976. He also scripted the television miniseries, It, and The Tommyknockers.
Salomon directed the 2004 television miniseries, ‘Salem’s Lot.
Cohen sticks with King’s story, padding it here and there to make it move. The main deviation from King is the main character is not a writer, but a film maker. So, instead of sitting down to write it all, he sits before a camera and recites it. That’s a good change that saved us from a number of “John Boy Walton” moments where we see the writer writing with the actor doing voiceover.
King's story is cerebral and none of that is lost in Cohen’s script. This may have turned off those expecting to see a King monster movie, but to more discerning audiences who enjoy subtlety and nuance in their horror, Salamon directing was masterful. Particularly subtle, yet chilling, is the television reporter stumbling over her script as dozens of happy, mindless people look on from behind.
The end of the story is rather anti-climatic and may not have made for the best television. But taking the story any place else other than where King took us at the end would have belied story. There could be no dramatic end; just a slow fade.
The Nightmares & Dreamscapes miniseries was well executed with some first rate talent doing the writing and directing in the eight episodes that were drawn from stories published in Nightmares & Dreamscapes, Everything’s Eventual, and Night Shift. As good as this episode was, it ranks in the middle of the pack. This was a good show and well worth the time spent watching the entire eight episode run.