Horror Movie Review: Riding the Bullet

Riding the Bullet is a horror film adaption of the Stephen King novella of the same name. It was directed by Mike Garris and released in 2004. Set in 1969, Alan Parker is a young artist who is obsessed with death.

It’s Alan’s birthday and he mistakenly believes that his girlfriend is breaking up with him. Due to this, he contemplates suicide while in the bathtub. He starts hallucinating and accidently cuts himself when Jessica and a group of friends startle him by coming in to surprise him for his birthday.

Alan wakes up in the hospital. Jessica says that she is angry with him but also tells Alan that she loves him. She surprises him with concert tickets to see John Lennon. The next day, Alan gets a phone call that his mother has had a stroke. He makes plans to go home that night, giving the concert tickets to his roommates.

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As he tries to hitchhike home, Alan remembers the funeral of his father when he was 6 years old. He envisions the death of his mother, and then himself, with a devastated Jessica weeping at his grave. Alan begins to hallucinate and has multiple experiences with the living and the dead. He sees a billboard for the “Ride the Bullet” rollercoaster which triggers a memory of him standing in line with his mother to ride it. However, he ultimately chickened out which angered his mother. Alan has further hallucinations that get more intense before finally making it to the hospital where he will be forced to make a decision.

Riding the Bullet is a surprisingly thought provoking horror movie. I’ve never read King’s novella so I’m basing my opinion solely on this film. There are some that feel that it does a poor job as an adaption but there you go. I thought the concept was really well done and the message it was attempting to get across was achieved. I wasn’t expecting to be contemplating the fragility of life and how quickly it can be snuffed out. The story is all about regret and ensuring that you have none before the end. Whether that’s reconnecting with a distant loved one or riding a roller coaster that has haunted you since you were a child.

The whole film has a really zany vibe which I found entertaining. It’s pointless but seeing Alan imagine the worst case scenario in every situation is amusing. There’s some really eccentric imagery throughout that adds to the over the top tone of the film. I found it enjoyable but it won’t be for everyone. David Arquette’s cameo is a lot of fun because he’s perfect for the role he plays. If you’ve ever seen him act before you’ll know that he plays unhinged really well.

Jonathan Jackson as Alan is good but there’s something about his performance that I just couldn’t buy into. He’s supposed to be this dark, suicidal type who’s obsessed with the macabre but I’m not too sure it works.

The gore is minimal but it looks really good for what it is. There’s some cheesy effects for sure but it only adds to the wacky aura of Riding the Bullet.

Overall, Riding the Bullet is an over the top horror film with a heart. It holds a surprising amount of emotional weight and delivers a powerful message that will resonate with just about anyone.




Riding the Bullet
  • The Final Score - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
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