Stephen King’s oeuvre is bearing cinematic fruit left, right and centre in 2017. Last week saw the release of McConaughey-fronted blockbuster The Dark Tower, while this Friday sees the release of the Mist on Netflix, a TV adaptation of his novel of the same name. And, we’ve still got a new version of clown-centric horror It to come later in the year.
But, while the undercooked Dark Tower flopped at the UK box office, another, under-the-radar King project has been making waves over in the USA. A gritty, gruesome adaptation of King’s 2014 detective novel Mr Mercedes debuted Stateside on August 9th, with weekly episodes airing on the Audience network – and, while there is no word as yet on which, if any, UK broadcaster will be picking the show up, viewers can watch the first two episodes for free over on the Audience website (disclaimer: the videos do not seem to work on Google Chrome, but your other preferred browser should do the trick).
Irish screen-legend Brendan Gleeson stars as a retired homicide detective, haunted by an unsolved case – a Mercedes ploughing into a crowd of bystanders, which kills sixteen people. When the killer begins to taunt and threaten him over the internet, he is thrust back into action.
Sandwiched between roles as ‘Knuckles’ McGinty in Paddington 2, and an idealistic squatter on lovely Hampstead Heath in Hampstead, it makes for quite a change of pace for the former Harry Potter star. His performance as sardonic ex-cop Bill Hodges (thankfully, he keeps his Irish accent) brings a touch of humanity to the series, that could otherwise teeter into overly morose territory.
The series was created by David E Kelley, who helmed Sky Atlantic’s Big Little Lies – and despite a drastically different tone it bears similarities to the Nicole Kidman-led drama with a sharp, often witty dialogue and a nuanced portrayal of suburban life.
Narratively, it bears similarities to Brett Ratner’s Silence of the Lambs prequel Red Dragon, which congruously chronicles the narratives of both the killer (a fantastically perverted Ralph Fiennes) and the detective (Edward Norton). In this case, Gleeson’s antagonist, an introverted electronics store clerk, is played by Penny Dreadful’s Harry Treadaway.
Mr Mercedes episodes 1 & 2 are streaming on Audience now