Stephen King, as reknowned as he is, has a bad habit of recycling ideas for his books. Likewise, films based on his books, particularly the made for TV ones, are often nothing short of awful. Desperation has its moments, but is too muddy, too weird, and too saccarine sweet at times.
The film feels overly familiar to other King adaptations such as the Langoliers, IT and even the Stand. A group of sundry people are trapped in a Nevada ghost town and are at the mercy of a powerful earth demon or entity known as Tak, who dates back to an ancient, pre-Native American civilization. In the first half of the movie, Tak is played by the woefully underrated Ron Perlman, one of my favorite actors. Perlman chews up the scenery and seems to be enjoying himself. But the problem is that Tak can only inhabit human bodies for short amounts of time as they decompose rapidly, so Perlman isn't really seen in the second act. Lots of familiar actors and actresses show up, including Tom Skerrit as a Vietnam vet writer, Matt Frewer, Anabeth Gish and Stephen Webber. However, things get really muddled in the clash of good vs. evil. There are ENDLESS speeches and pep talks about God and christian faith, its really tiresome. However, the little boy who stands in for Danny from the Shining often finds himself asking if maybe the God he worships might be no less sadistic than Tak, so things aren't all black and white. The atmosphere of the town of Desperation is cool, but suffers from bad lighting. Probably the creepiest scene is a supernatural old film reel of how Tak was released from its ancient slumber.
Its too bad that there wasn't much light shed on what exactly is Tak trying to accomplish. It simply awakens, posseses people, controls animals and that's about it. It would also have been cooler if they delved a bit deeper into the ancient civilization that is connected with Tak. Oh well, if you're a King fan you might eat it up.