King On Screen (2023)

The best thing about “King on Screen” is the prologue by Daphne Baiwir which finds her walking in to a shop called the “Creepshop” where she hopes to show a painting she’d purchased. The setting, the characters, and the items in the shop are all subtle visual and verbal references to Stephen King and elements of Stephen King’s stories. It’s something that hooked me in right away and I quite loved the entire effects of Baiwir being savvy to King enough to deliver something of an ode to King. It compensates for “King on Screen” which, in its root, is another basic talking head documentary.

That is not to say that “King on Screen” is bad, but it doesn’t re-invent the wheel or anything to that effect. Basically, “King on Screen” is a ninety minute chronicle of Stephen King’s adaptations from novel to the cinema and television and the process behind those ideas and the whole collaborations that King has experienced. While this is all fascinating material for horror fans, you won’t learn anything new sadly. I mean it’s about all of the same material we’ve seen in a hundred other horror history documentaries in the last few decades. King almost threw his novel for “Carrie” away. King’s wife saved the novel and effectively saved his career.

“Misery” was altered to fit the movie including the famous hobbling scene. King was a heavy drinker and drug abuser during his early years as an author. Oh and did you know King hates Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”? Oh boy, he really hates Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” No, I mean he hates it. He hates it so much that he went out and made his own TV version of it with friend and constant collaborator Mick Garris. We’ve heard this stuff before, we’ve read about this stuff before, ad nauseum. It’s a lot of fun to see who King inspired and how much director Mike Flanagan was inspired by King. But through it all, the documentary just doesn’t tread any new grounds in the realm of King’s world and his literary process.

There’s no new light shed, no new insight. It’s a fun documentary, don’t get me wrong. I love re-visiting King’s old stories (Along with interviewees like Frank Darabont, Tom Holland, and Mick Garris, respectively) and watching his enthusiasm when speaking about “Carrie,” and “Rose Red.” It’s just “King on Screen” runs on fumes for a majority of its time and doesn’t quite match the momentum of the inventive prologue. I wish Baiwir had run with that concept.

Now in US Theaters. Will be available On Demand and on Blu-Ray September 8th.