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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22.39%
Average: 18.66%
Pretty Bad: 21.64%
Total Crap: 5.22%

13 reviews, 56 user ratings

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Apt Pupil
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by Ryan Arthur

"Tot Bowten."
4 stars

Well made, well acted.

But it's not quite there.

Is this a worthy follow up to Bryan Singer's The Usual Suspects? Maybe. There were parts that I liked about the film, but there were stretches of boredom. Based on the Stephen King novella of the same name, at best, it's simply uneven.

Todd Bowden (Brad Renfro) is on track to graduate at the head of his class. He starts to take an interest in the Holocaust, reading up and doing research, when he discovers that Arthur Denker (Ian McKellan) may just in reality be Kurt Dussander, a Nazi war criminal who has evaded capture and prosecution. Todd, being the smart guy that he is, takes pictures and lifts fingerprints, all to make sure that this is, in fact, the guy.

It is.

So he threatens to tell the authorities about Denker/Dussander, unless the old guy starts to tell him stories about what he did. The old man even seems to get off on it, especially when the kids brings him a replica of a Nazi uniform. He starts doing his little march while the kid barks out orders. Ultimately, when Todd's grades take a nosedive and then rebound through the help of Denker, he breaks away from the old man, who's every bit as sinister. Old guy kills a cat and tries to off a homeless person but starts to have a heart attack. He calls in Todd to finish the job. "Now we'll see what you're made of," he says, closing the door to the basement where the body (dead? alive?) lies.

Will the authorites find out? Will Todd kill someone?

Good questions. But the script is uneven. Disturbing images (Todd, in a high school gym shower, hallucinates, seeing men from the concentration camp showers instead of classmates) mixed with hokey dialogue ("Now we'll see what you're made of"? How cliche is that?) make it shaky. The performances are what drew me in.

Ian McKellan is outstanding here. He's got the look and feel of Dussander/Denker down, and when we see him in that uniform, it really is chilling. Brad Renfro also surprised me. I wasn't really a fan of his other work (I was indifferent to it), but his Todd is actually a strong performance from a young actor. The two actors work well together.

In the end, though, there's something missing. You're not sure if it's a message movie or a popcorn movie.

Ooh, Pacey's in this. Dawson's Creek fans will flock.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 10/27/98 01:47:49
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell loner becomes a nazi psycho killer skip it 1 stars
8/01/07 Donīt believe the movie-haters on this list - go check it out! TreeTiger 5 stars
7/16/07 Total Crap Average 3 stars
2/23/07 David Pollastrini I saw it but have no memory of it so it must have sucked 1 stars
10/10/06 Brian Excellent, manipulative sparring, another piece of magic from Stephen King 4 stars
7/13/06 Agent Sands I love seeing two horrible people being cleverly horrible to each other. 5 stars
4/21/06 pk i thougt it was too scary for a stephen king novella and movie 3 stars
5/27/05 Lord Haw Haw One too many coincidences. Collapses under its own weight. 2 stars
3/06/05 Danny Excellent film. 5 stars
6/20/04 El Capo Both sucks and blows 2 stars
3/23/04 Trannon Goble Spectacular 5 stars
12/22/03 Snickerdoodle Really moody and creepy, I'd like to see it again 4 stars
6/23/03 Jack Sommersby Unfocused and weakly acted by Renfro. 2 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon The best one-man marching sequence in the history of cinema. 4 stars
5/11/03 Charles Tatum Understood all of three words Ian spoke 2 stars
11/25/02 Kyle Slow mover, but an engaging film. 4 stars
9/16/02 John Wright brillian film . hits the spot 5 stars
4/21/02 R.W. Welch Plot line not credible, but that good old Steven King weirdness helps a lot. 4 stars
1/21/02 Andrew Carden It's Good To Make Fun Of...Could One Day Be A Victim Of MST2K. 3 stars
6/04/01 Basil They should have choosen the books ending. 2 stars
11/29/00 The Evil Penguin very creepy 4 stars
11/08/00 Romana twisted, creepy yet strangely engaging 4 stars
4/10/00 Yankee surreal, this is scary. The shower and uniform sequences were creepy. simply excellent 4 stars
12/17/99 Fork Structure, form, purpose? A Jedi needs not these plot elements. 2 stars
9/16/99 strike unjustly overshadowed by American History X. Do not let them fool you! This is better. 4 stars
9/08/99 Joe Goebbels Yes, all Nazis are cruel to animals, and skilled forgers to boot. Lots of laughs. 1 stars
8/26/99 Liza Poor Sir Ian McKellan doing his best Kenneth Mars from "The Producers" imitation Nazi accen 1 stars
7/12/99 ken heine the basement scene was cool. 2 stars
7/04/99 J-Dogg This sucky shit just drags on and on; repellent characters; horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE. 1 stars
6/28/99 Stevie B. Pretty engaging, yet some pretty serious overacting going on here. Gets pretty eerie on you 3 stars
6/26/99 David There's some good stuff in here, but it's strangely soulless. You just don't care. 3 stars
6/03/99 Tristynn It was okay.. A bit draggy in parts.. the best they could do with a SK novel i guess... 3 stars
3/14/99 Ah Dooey Better than the rest of King's movies. 5 stars
12/29/98 The Dude mother fucking great. You'll never guess the ending 5 stars
12/28/98 Johny Slow and uninteresting. Major let down 2 stars
12/11/98 Mike McFarland maybe some of you read a different story..this was VERY tame compared to the King story 3 stars
12/10/98 Bryan Interesting movie showing the transformation from ignorance to hate. 3 stars
12/09/98 ee hogan' s heroes meets the dark half 3 stars
12/05/98 Shadow Raider Excellent flick, better than that Urban Legend shit. Get your ass to this movie! 5 stars
12/03/98 Kirgo Well crafted although very forced at times. 4 stars
11/25/98 Bad Kosh Hehehehe... 5 stars
11/24/98 Greensweater *yawn* 2 stars
11/20/98 Emma the worst movie i've seen since "the land before Time" 1 stars
11/17/98 StenoHead Probably the best possible movie about Stephen King's worst story ever. 3 stars
10/31/98 Specter Startling, not scary. 4 stars
10/28/98 Miss Stress you cannot walk away and no be disturbed, if you did you weren't paying attention. 5 stars
10/26/98 Pariah A major letdown...I wasn't frightened, I wasn't disturbed. I was, however, mildly bored. 3 stars
10/26/98 Chris I enjoyed it, I felt that it was pretty intense. 4 stars
10/25/98 Negative Creep Two good Performances in a picture that goes nowhere. 3 stars
10/19/98 Aint-It-Cool Unfortunately, the magic just wasn't on the page. A March movie. 3 stars
10/17/98 Mr Showbiz director Bryan Singer falls flat with his dull adaptation 2 stars
10/13/98 {{{OZ}}} Moronb, if you haven't seen it, don't rate it. 5 stars
10/13/98 joseph renfro no no 2 stars
10/13/98 jym brad renfro=bad 1 stars
9/29/98 brian Excellent! Oscar contender material! 5 stars
8/29/98 Mister Whoopee Sensational. Scary as hell, from the guy who directed Usual Suspects. Reeaaaaally good. 5 stars
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  23-Oct-1998 (R)


  15-Apr-1999 (MA)

Directed by
  Bryan Singer

Written by
  Brandon Boyce

  Ian McKellen
  Brad Renfro
  Joe Morton
  David Schwimmer
  Bruce Davison
  Elias Koteas

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