Desperation (2006)

3.5 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 3/10

Ron Perlman

Meandering story and weak visuals

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Desperation

Studio:  Touchstone Television

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  May 23, 2006

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


To quote Judge Dredd…”I am the law!”

An evil is growing in the town of Desperation, and the town sheriff Collie Entragain (Ron Perlman) is its latest host.  As people pass by the dusty, sleepy town on the local highway, Collie is arresting them and keeping them prisoners as potential hosts for a demon named Tak.  Now, a writer named Johnny Marinville (Tom Skerritt), Steve Ames (Steven Weber), Mary Jackson (Annabeth Gish), an old drunk named Tom Billingsley (Charles Durning), a hitchhiker named Cynthia (Kelly Overton), and Ralph Carver (Matt Frewer) and his religious son David (Shane Haboucha) are on the run and fighting for survival.  Tak must be stopped and the ancient evil must be contained forever.

Directed by Mick Garris, Desperation is a made-for-TV adaptation of Stephen King’s 1996 horror novel.  Shot in Arizona, the film was intended to be a miniseries but instead aired in one three hour block against the popular American Idol which led to low ratings.


Even a demon-possessed psycho killer needs a good dog!

This is a rather low period of Stephen King in general.  Many of his novels from this time are rather forgettable and Desperation is pretty basic novel.  The novel’s original gimmick was that it has a companion novel called The Regulators that was penned by Stephen King’s alter ego Richard Bachman.  The idea of the parallel worlds was dropped for the miniseries, and with it much of what made the story interesting.

The plot for the movie drags.  The creepy sheriff doesn’t really get much of a payoff since he’s just a host and starts to wear out the character virtually disappears for the second half of the story.  The concept of Chinese migrant workers in the West is a rich subject but the material doesn’t do enough with that concept to make it interesting either.  I think that the story is just too shattered to really come together.


I believe God, soap, and maybe some CGI will save me!

I also find the God aspect of this story really odd.  It isn’t that there is a character of faith, but it is how everyone acts like they’ve never heard of such a thing.  Regardless if you are religious or atheist, you get the concept that people believe in God…here the characters act like it is totally alien to them and that David is a mental case because of his beliefs more than the idea that he is getting pertinent information to the plot from some unknown source.

The movie’s plot is not aided by the sprawling cast.  While King is a great character writer, they don’t always translate to the film and many of his characters feel like duplicates of other characters (like the kid with psychic powers).  King always puts himself into the story like with Skerritt’s character and Steven Weber also been a King substitute in movies like The Shining.  The only real actor who makes the most of their character is Perlman as the psychotic sheriff.


I’m going to blow the hell out of this donut thing!

The movie also visually looks rather cheap.  As a made-for-TV movie, I generally don’t expect much, but shows like Battlestar Galactica and Lost show that even TV can look like it has a theater budget with some work.  Here, you get some so-so make-up, but the movie looks like it is a lot of sets.

Desperation isn’t very good.  The film doesn’t provide many jumps and doesn’t have a great plot that really pulls you in.  With tons of other better horror films out there, it really isn’t worth checking out unless you are a Stephen King obsessed fan and are trying to see all his works…just like the town of Desperation, avoid it.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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