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Apt Pupil: a Study in Shudders


Okay, help me out here -- should I or should I not sue Stephen King?

Between The Stand, Carrie and that blood-in-the-elevator scene in The Shining, he's been contributing to my madness for the past twenty years. See, Mom, Dad, friends, family, pets, former significant others and Leonardo DiCaprio? I'm not really supposed to be this weird.

It's all his fault, not mine. Let's just completely forget that whole thing where my mother dropped me on a head as a baby right before I was raised by wolves under high-power electrical lines near a nuclear power plant, and just point our fingers at good old Stephen.

Which brings me to Apt Pupil.

Sorry, guys. No guts, no blood, no gore, no innards, and no chick fights involving machetes. This is screw-with-the-head stuff, and boy, does it do the trick. Do you have any idea how long I had the shivers after seeing this movie? Well, do you?

Brad Renfro, that bratty kid from The Client, plays this "A" student who finds out that a former Nazi lives in his hometown. Renfro convinces the Nazi (played by Ian McKellan, probably the scariest guy in Hollywood except for, maybe, Gary Oldman and Christopher Walken) to tell him about the good old days when the Nazis used to kill Jews for kicks. SuperNazi tells such a good fairy tale that the kid starts thinking: "Hey, I want to be a war criminal when I grow up!"

That's where the psychological stuff comes in. This movie doesn't murder a bunch of characters to scare you. It shows you David Schwimmer as a high-school counselor with a circa-1983 haircut. Scared, aren't ya? Aren't ya? Huh, huh, huh?

At the beginning of the movie, it's easy to sympathize with the characters. I mean, how can you not sympathize with Ian McKellan?


Oh, I'm sorry. Did I say that out loud? It's just that whenever you say the name "Ian McKellan"--


-- I get a little edgy. (You have no idea how much restraint it took to keep myself from going into anaphylactic shock at saying his name and those two other scary actors' names a couple of paragraphs ago. In fact, I used up all my restraint for the rest of this review. Which means I'm Vibrating Girl now. Um... maybe I should rephrase that...)

I won't say that you'll be frightened out of your wits. Driven to madness, yes. Wait -- isn't that the same thing? Oh, never mind. Brad Renfro is only about fifteen years away from starting me a'shuddering, and that Nazi guy whose name I'm not going to mention for the fear that I'll spill iced tea all over myself again... well, he's kinda scary, too. You know, like the theme from Halloween.


Aw, maaan, I've got to get myself a cup with a lid...

Jennifer Matarese

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