Sardonic Tales: “The Well and the Wheel”

A few years ago, I did a thing where I picked a movie that would make a good double-feature with one of the stories in my then-newest collection, Painted Monsters. This year, for the Countdown to Halloween, I thought it might be fun to do the same thing, but with my now-newest collection, Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales.

If “The Blue Light” was the hardest of these to choose a film to go along with, “The Well and the Wheel” was a close second. While I’m known as “the monster guy,” and that’s apt, I also have a fondness for serial killer stories. Not all serial killer stories, though. Only certain ones. The chilly, autumnal ones. The mythologizing ones, as much about obsession as they are about murder. Zodiac and Red Dragon and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

If you like those kinds of movies, too, pick your favorite one, and dive in, and call that your companion piece to “The Well and the Wheel.” I know that there must be a perfect one out there, just as I know I must have seen it, but I also can’t quite think what it is.

So I’ll recommend something that will work, in its stead: The TV show version of Hannibal. Really, the whole series will do, but for the ideal apertif try the first season. There’s echoes of Abigail Hobbs in the protagonist of “The Well and the Wheel,” though I can’t swear that I had actually seen Hannibal before I wrote this story, and I know that I wasn’t thinking about it as I wrote.


Then there’s also that well, right? And its position as the fetishistic object at the heart of the story obviously owes something to The Ring and to the Japanese version that came before it. For my money, I prefer Gore Verbinski’s 2002 remake, but it’s been a few years since I saw the original…

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