Spoiler-Free Review: KING ON SCREEN (Panic Fest 2023)

April 17, 2023

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at [email protected]. He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

French/Belgian coproduction King on Screen is a valentine to the film adaptations of prolific author Stephen King — who truly needs no introduction here — and to the writer himself. Featuring talking-head interviews with filmmakers who adapted King’s works to big and small screens alike, along with behind-the-scenes footage and film clips galore, the film shows the diverse range of genres in which King has worked, and examines why his stories work as well as they do.

Director Daphné Baiwir begins her documentary with an Easter-egg–filled seven-minute sequence in which King’s short stories and novels get name checked or alluded to, and it’s a fun way to begin this film. Even the most casual of the author’s fans will get some of the references, while more seasoned aficionados will appreciate the deeper cuts.

From there, the interview segments, archival footage that includes King on different sets, and clips from both classic and lesser known King films begin. Filmmakers such as Frank Darabont, Mick Garris, and Mike Flanagan discuss how they learned about King — and like most of us who were of the age to see the 1976 film version of Carrie when it was first released, that is the usual reference — their relationship working with him, and of course their movie adaptations. 

King on Screen is a rather straightforward documentary, and if someone is looking for a knock on Baiwir’s film, it could be said that it doesn’t cast much of a critical eye on the films at hand. That is not what her work film is meant to be, though, so fans of King’s works — the horrific, the humorous, the dramatic, and the rest — will find plenty to celebrate in the author’s depiction of Americana, strong women protagonists, and childhood nostalgia, and his strength in creating unforgettable characters placed in unusual situations.



King on Screen is part of Panic Fest 2023, which takes place in person from April 13–19, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri, and which offers a virtual fest from April 14–23.

Dark Star Pictures is planning on a fall theatrical release of King on Screen.

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