For fans of the original story of The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs, the story has been adapted in many different ways. The adaptations that stick out to me are 1972’s Tales from the Crypt and when they adapted it on The Simpsons. For better or worse, this film is more of a continuation of the story. This film focuses on a factory worker named Jake and his older friend Cobb as they run into someone who passes the paw to Jake. That someone has already been through, what we assume, the main story that fans are familiar with.
While the film excels in environment and atmosphere, sadly the story is pretty pedestrian. Taking place in New Orleans, The Monkey’s Paw really uses the locale to infuse it with the screenplay by Macon Blair (Blue Ruin, Murder Party), unlike other tax credit films that just utilize the benefits of shooting in Louisana. Other than the locations, the highlights of the film is the camaraderie between Stephen Lang‘s Cobb and C.J. Thomason‘s Jake. The age difference is something you don’t commonly get out of a film like this or a lot of genre films, even better is that it feels genuine. While Jake is the main character, Lang’s acting somewhat overshadows Thomason. The audience will probably identify more with Cobb more so than Jake because, simply put, Jake is a pretty plain character. The only background you get about Jake is that he has a broken heart from a girl who later went to marry his factory boss. Cobb has a history that involves his love for a child he cannot see due to his mistakes in the past. It is more personal than Jake’s story and it is a huge flaw of the film. Had we follow Cobb through his transformation after the incident (I don’t want to spoil it for you), that would have been a little more interesting than Jake fumbling through playing detective and trying to get rid of the paw.
The Monkey’s Paw is a Chiller Films production, which aired on the channel on the channel last year, is a film that many genre fans will dismiss due to the fact that it is a TV movie on a network that is known to censor violence. From what I can tell, this film isn’t an uncensored/unrated version of the television presentation. Everything looks in tact.
While the image looks a bit soft, the above average cinematography, rich with greens, blues and sepia tones, is represented well here. The disc comes with a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track, 2.0 DTS-HD MA track and a Audio Commentary track.
The Making of ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ Featurette (4:47) HD – A basic interview/fluff piece for the film where the cast & crew (director) talks about their roles in the production. There are a few shots of behind the scenes b-roll but not enough to see how the production was.
Audio Commentary with Director Brett Simmons, Cinematographer Scott Winig and Actor C.J. Thomason – This is a pretty informative commentary. It’s good to hear from the DP as the cinematography is strong in this film and elevates it above an average television film. Simmons and Thomason talk about shooting in New Orleans and some of the obstacles that they ran into. Simmons also makes a few comments on how he is used to directing his own screenplays and that for The Monkey’s Paw it was different since the screenplay is from someone else. At times it feels like he is apologizing for some of the problems the screenplay has, which is a bit odd.
The Monkey’s Paw is not a bad film but it isn’t one that will stick out for people nor will it be one you just throw in. The strongest and most unique part of the film that sets it apart ends when the actual supernatural story begins. Scream Factory puts out a adequate release for an adequate movie.