A wildly entertaining film that Stephen King scripted (based on his novella Cycle of the Werewolf), Silver Bullet follows a brother and sister (young Marty and teenager Jane) who live in a small town where someone authorities describe as “a maniac” has been picking off residents during full moons. Dense with lycanthropy action (the antagonist kills four people within the movie's first thirty minutes, though one death occurs off-screen), the story features some emotionally gut-wrenching beats (like when the father of a murdered child confronts the sheriff in a bar).
The tale's midpoint consists of a way cool dream sequence set in the community's church.
One night Marty is out shooting off fireworks when the werewolf attacks him. Marty hits the beast in one eye with a rocket and gets away. He tells Jane what happened, and the next day she canvases the town looking for someone with only one eye. Soon enough Marty and Jane know the identity of the werewolf, and they set out (with the help of their uncle) to kill the beast before it gets them. I won't spoil the plot beyond this point.
In the foreword to a book that includes the screenplay and the novella on which it is based, Stephen King writes, “Is the picture any good? Man, I just can't tell. I'm writing without benefit of hindsight and from a deeply subjective point of view. You want that point of view? Okay. I think it's either very good indeed or a complete bust... After you've been through four drafts plus spot rewrites, the film itself seems like a hallucination when you first see it.”
Silver Bullet is a fantastic movie with richly-drawn characters, witty and realistic dialogue, and a plot that spins along at just the right pace with plenty of tense and horrifying scenes in which the werewolf strikes. It ranks alongside Ginger Snaps as one of my favorite werewolf films.
Not all critics agree with me. A review in The Overlook Film Encyclopedia of Horror states that the project “is half-hearted horror” and says, “Set in a rural community populated by hysterical, intolerant, booze-befuddled, trigger-happy rednecks, this displays King's cynicism about the common people.” Roger Ebert wrote, “I know that a case can be made for how bad Silver Bullet is. I agree. It's bad. But it's not routinely bad. It is bad in its own awesomely tasteless and bubble-brained way...”
I urge you to check out Silver Bullet, for I perceive it as a superior horror movie. It's an anomaly: an R-rated project with kids as the central characters. That alone sets it apart from the pack.