IF IT'S inspired by Stephen King, then it's got to be spooky, though not necessarily horror-ridden.
And what a bonus - in theory - to have Anthony Hopkins.
So no real surprises that that this tender coming of age tale should have supernatural overtones.
Comparisons will be drawn, most likely, with Stand By Me which paints a similarly nostalgic yet brutal portrait of tainted youth.
The story recalls the lazy hot summer of 1960, when the mysterious Ted Brautigan (Hopkins) arrives out of nowhere to take up lodgings with 11-year-old Bobby Garfield (Anton Yelchin) and his mother.
Bobby, abandoned by his father and ignored by his mother, has been forced to resolve his own growing pains of physical and verbal abuse, as well as his attraction to best friend Carol (Mika Boorem).
Ted and Bobby become instant and unlikely friends. The boy agrees to read the newspaper to the new lodger in exchange for pocket money.
For this Ted provides his young charge with invaluable moral support.
As the bonds of the relationship strengthen, so Bobby learns of Ted's mysterious powers...
But Hopkins' performance is too detached to prove his worth as a parental substitute. He seems to be in a half-glazed world of his own for much of the time.
Never the less, director Scott Hicks beautifully evokes the era, and takes care in establishing a degree of fragile trust between Bobby and the enigmatic visitor.
Newcomer Yelchin is undoubtedly the best thing in the movie. He effortlessly conveys the conflicting emotions of shredded childhood innocence.
And it is he who ultimately makes the rapport between the two actors work, bringing about the dramatic denouement in which a single act of kindness is misread, with life-altering consequences.
Hicks frames the central drama with glimpses of Bobby in the present-day (now played by David Morse), as he returns to the family home.
However, there's hardly a light touch to the final minutes which are needlessly sentimental.