Apt Pupil – Blu-ray review

By Brian M. Sammons

Director: Bryan Singer

Stars: Ian McKellen, Brad Renfro, Joshua Jackson



After a few years of mostly being forgotten in cinema, Stephen King is hotter than ever. It’s like the 1980s all over again with a ton of his stories becoming feature films. This extends to renewed love for some of his older movies, like Apt Pupil from 1998. Ironically when this film first came out, the fact that it was based off of a King story was downplayed, yet now Mr. King’s name is proudly above the title on this new Blu-ray from the awesome Aussies at Umbrella Entertainment. And like everything from Umbrella, it’s region free which makes me really happy. But does this movie and the Blu-ray make me happy? Let’s find out.


Todd is a high school kid with a fascination about the darker things in life. Like Nazis. Lucky for him he’s an…apt pupil…and pays attention in class and soon recognizes an old man in the neighborhood as a notorious SS officer. So he does what any good kid would do and calls the police. Oh wait, I mean he blackmails the old Nazi into telling him firsthand accounts of the “good old days” of murder under the flag of the twisted cross. Because of these story times the old Nazi starts to pine away for his gory glory days and the kid soon wishes to make a few murderous memories of his own. How far will each one go to keep their dirty little secrets and realize their fatal fantasies?


This movie is far more a thriller than a straight up horror film, although it certainly deals with some of the most horrific parts of history and human nature. So all you newcomers that just got turned on to King by It, know that going into this. That said, as a thriller it’s really good. A young Brad Renfro does a very good job playing the high school golden boy and the sick twist just coming to grips with his twistedness. However Ian McKellen steals the show every second he’s on screen. He is a monster through and through but because of his advancing years he can also play the harmless old man bit at a drop of a hat. Even Brian Singer, who is persona non grata in Hollywood right now (and rightfully so in my opinion) does strong work here as the director.


Let’s get to the special features that Umbrella Entertainment has put on this new Blu-ray release. There is a behind the scenes featurette that is really just an extended commercial and runs nearly seven minutes. This disc also has the movie’s theatrical trailer and some TV spots. And sadly, that’s it. I would have thought there would be more for a King movie with these actors in it, but nope. Pity.


Apt Pupil is a very good movie. Worth the price of admission to watch Ian McKellen play sympathetic yet unrepentant evil so well. It’s not one of Stephen King’s best known works and the Blu-ray could have had some more meat on the bones, but in the end it’s all about the film and this is a worthy addition to anyone’s library. Consider it recommended.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: http://brian_sammons.webs.com/ and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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