Stephen King is the (mostly) undisputed Master of Literary Horror. His books and stories have served as springboards for some of the most intense, epic film adaptations we’ve seen in the last four decades–and a flop or two, but we don’t talk about those.
In fact, it seems there’s always a King project in development, pre-production, post-production, or whose release is upon us, and in all of those, I always ask, “What about Revival?”
Released in 2014, Revival was immediately subject to the mixed reviews that King receives on almost every single thing he’s ever written. For some, it was another instant classic, but others felt the novel fell far short of the author’s potential.
As a devoted reader of Mr. King’s work since the seventh grade when I first picked up Firestarter and never looked back, Revival was and remains one of the most disturbing the author has ever produced.
In the novel, a young boy named Jamie is excited when a new minister, Reverend Charles Jacobs, moves to his town. In fact, the whole little town comes to love the new minister and his wife and child.
Everything changes when Jacobs’ family is killed in a horrific car accident. To the town’s shock, the minister gives a blistering “sermon” denouncing God and everything he created. He’s soon run out of town and Jamie’s life takes a new path.
He becomes a musician and, unfortunately, a heroin addict. Years later, he runs into the former Reverend Jacobs, who now works as a carnival huckster and faith healer using experimental “secret” electricity to heal people of every ailment you can imagine.
Jamie is shocked when Jacobs is able to remove his addiction with his experiments, and promises to help Jacobs in his work in any way he can. Little does he know that Jacobs is careening toward conquering the secrets of death, and that the consequences of his experiments will release a horror that neither man can imagine.
On the surface, this could be any book by King. He has often tackled addiction, family dysfunction, and other similar elements in his book.
“Annie Wilkes is cocaine,” he said. “She was my number-one fan.”
Still, there was something more intense going on in Revival.
I’ll admit, for me personally, it was perhaps my own background growing up in a small town in a conservative, religious family that attended a charismatic church where faith-healing and fundamentalist fervor were par for the course that made Jacobs’ madness so real.
Perhaps, also, it was the obvious nods to the work of Mary Shelley, H.P. Lovecraft, and Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan that worked some dark alchemical magic in its creation.
Regardless, as the book’s final chapters tore their way into my imagination, I found myself shaking, short of breath, and simultaneously glad that it was over and wondering when/if we would ever see it adapted.
In 2016, it was reported that Josh Boone would helm the film version of Revival as soon as he was finished up with The New Mutants…and well, we all know how well that has gone.
Can no one else get on this?
Hopefully, with The New Mutants possibly(?) headed to Hulu later this year, the director, who was also slated to write the adaptation, can get to work on the King novel.
It’s a prime time for it, really, with both Pet Sematary, Doctor Sleep and It: Chapter Two coming soon as well as a limited series adaptation of The Stand announced.
Authors’s note: Speaking of Pet Sematary, if you read Revival, you just might find out why things buried in that hallowed ground come back different, dark, and murderous. Everything in the King universe is connected after all.
If you haven’t read Revival, now’s the perfect time, and to the powers that be, can we get that adaptation, please?