The Dead Zone (1983)

Johnny Smith awakens from a coma to find that he now possesses the gift of second sight, which allows him to look into someone's past or future after making contact with that person. His newfound ability comes at a terrible cost, however, as he is forced to intervene in a number of world-changing events if he hopes to save an ill-fated future. THE DEAD ZONE is a slight departure from Cronenberg's typical canon of work, which usually involves some form of physical deformity that has resulted from man's tampering with nature. Here, we have a much more cerebral suspense thriller that feels like a Philip K. Dick novel set in modern times, although the story, itself, has been adapted from the works of Stephen King. Cronenberg brings an unmistakable sense of style to the piece, particularly throughout Johnny's psychic flashbacks. THE DEAD ZONE is best remembered for the outstanding performances from both Christopher Walken as Johnny Smith and the wildly-eccentric Martin Sheen in the role of aspiring senator Greg Stillson. Sheen steals every scene, and becomes a much-hated villain by the film's climactic finale. The ongoing themes of isolation and loneliness that occur in spite of Johnny's great power also contribute to the darkening mood. THE DEAD ZONE is a minor classic from the early 1980s that is well worth revisiting.

Rating: 8/10.

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