The Monkey's Paw is updated to 2013 where a factory underling, Jake (CJ Thomason), accidentally costs a long-time employee, Gill (Daniel Hugh Kelly; Hardcastle and McCormick) his job. Gill received a monkey's paw as a kid after his father died, and he decides as revenge to give it to Jake, knowing that if wished upon bad things were most certain to happen. And they do.
As the old story goes, Jake wishes for a nice ride, and a wreck caused by a gator in the road throws his bar/work buddy, Tony Cobb (Stephen Lang), through the windshield, killing him when he hit the ground. Unwisely making a second wish on the paw to resurrect Tony, what happens is he's brought back, but the soul is "poisoned" and he becomes a remorseless killer. Tony has an ex with a son who has a restraining order against him. Although he wants to "take his boy fishing", Tony isn't some father of the year: in fact the friendly, chatty Tony Jake became close to has returned cold and distanced. What Tony wants is to have his son and sees the monkey's paw as the means to do so. So unless Jake does as he wishes, people will die (a motorist he met at a bar is strangled by him through the use of her hoody)
Two wishes and Tony wants Jake to make that third, being the kid belonging to him. That motivation will drive Tony to commit unspeakable acts, like murdering Jake's family (mother, brother, and brother's wife), a detective trying to help him (Charles Durning in a thankless part he still manages to bring depth to despite being given a few scenes with a manner of minutes), and Jake's employer (thinking that if the rival for the woman he loves is out of the way, Jake would be more apt to help him).
Lang has cut his teeth on complex villains. He was at first an opinionated, assertive, but ultimately amusing blue collar forklift operator, only robbed of his humanity after Jake awakens him from the dead thanks to a monkey's paw with only bad intentions it offers. Lang offers a weapon cutting a swath through all that are close to Jake, wanting the kid, not fully realizing the cruelty of his actions. The black soul and how Lang posits a ruined character thanks to the paw is damned effective. He's shot well, too, to convey all that darkness. Thomason just wasn't particularly involved in his character and left me cold
we needed someone who could provoke a response not leave a feeling of apathy towards him. The paw dilemma isn't too badly executed. You see how the paw really takes Jake down a dark road: no good really comes of it. Kelly isn't available for the film much, but you can feel for him considering his firing left him in a difficult spot. That he is the catalyst for all the harm done, though, visits upon him karmic justice
he pays for not ridding himself and others of the paw. This is not a film which focuses on the grisly details, more or less suggesting the horrors caused by Lang. Heads don't fare well: one victim is crushed in a vice while another has his head split open with a blade; a third is twisted all the way around. This will perhaps be judged by Lang's mission of terror, because the paw story is old hat.