Stephen King's 'The Long Walk' Races Towards the Big Screen

Brandon MarcusComment

It seems that we are living in the golden age of Stephen King adaptations. It: Chapter Two is on the way, as well as The Stand on CBS All Access, a Dark Tower series from Amazon and various other films. And now we have word of one of King’s most challenging reads becoming a movie. 

André Øvredal, the man behind the upcoming Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, will direct a big screen adaptation of The Long Walk. For those not in the know, Walk was originally written under the pen name Richard Bachman and is one of King’s most brutal and relentless stories. It was penned years before Battle Royale and The Hunger Games and obviously greatly influenced both of those books. Here’s a quick synopsis of the novel:

In the near future, where America has become a police state, one hundred boys are selected to enter an annual contest where the winner will be awarded whatever he wants for the rest of his life. The game is simple – maintain a steady walking pace of four miles per hour without stopping. Three warnings, and you’re out – permanently.

It was reported last year that James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) would write the script and he’s still on board. Vanderbilt is a vastly intelligent and capable writer and should deftly take on the source material. But I’m going to tell you now, if the movie follows the book closely then it’ll easily earn a HARD R-rating. It’s a ruthless book, full of teenagers being shot to death repeatedly. King fans have always known that his Bachman alter ego would often showcase his darker side and The Long Walk is evidence of that. This novel pulled NO punches. Don’t expect to take your kids to see this one. The Hunger Games it most certainly is not.

This is an adaptation that has been long, long, long in development. Frank Darabont was attached to it years ago but never got it off the ground. That’s partly due to the bleakness of the story but it seems that King is so hot right now that those fears have died down. The plot is also not very cinematic, to be honest. It really is just about kids walking and only walking for days on end. There are some great characters, of course, but they don’t venture from the task at hand. The story really is about a long, long, long walk. It worked wonderfully as a short novel and I have faith that it can be a terrific movie as well. Violent? Yes. Brutal? Yes. Depressing? Yes. Classic Stephen King? Yes.