My desire to pursue a career in film criticism ended during high school, when I realized I'd be required to watch a lot of movies that didn't remotely appeal to me. Such an occupation sounded positively awful.
The film has a very simple plot, with minimal character development and abbreviated storytelling, all leading up to an extremely over-the-top and gory finale...which is exactly what I expected. I got exactly the movie I paid to see.
The film takes a low-intensity, 'realistic' view of its subject matter, yet stills dabbles in plausibility-skewering, morality-be-damned, violent wish-fulfillment, similar to what some of those old Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood movies used to catch flack for.
Considering the movie's interweaving of the kid's nightmares and his waking life experiences, blurring the lines between reality and dark fantasy, the filmmakers certainly left it up to individual interpretation.
The plot's clever, with nary a dull moment, the characters are lively, distinctive and memorable, and the story's 1978 period setting is beautifully rendered. The direction is quite strong, with the film's tone fluctuating expertly between humor and menace.
No matter how many times I explained this to my mother, I got the feeling she was never quite convinced.