The bag of money. The one plot device that is a surefire way to create conflict. Be it a comedy figuring out how to spend it all or a thriller where greed runs through its blood, it's been around as long as fiction itself. If used properly, it can provide a good story.
Such is the case with A Simple Plan. After finding a duffel bag full of money in a plane wreckage, two brothers and their friend find themselves at odds at what to do with it and how to keep it a secret from others. But almost immediately, problems arise...and bodies start to drop.
Scott Smith's novel starts off as a slow burn with this premise but ends as a raging inferno. Told from the perspective of one of the brothers, Smith maintains a very matter-of-fact nature to telling the events as they unfold. It's this detail that makes the story all the more chilling.
With Smith serving as its screenwriter, Sam Raimi's adaptation is actually less dark than its source. Despite that and a few tweaks, it's still a solid story to be told. (Not only that but it'll make you miss Bill Paxton's presence and wonder what Bridget Fonda has been up to.)
So which is better: Smith's book or Raimi's movie? Both grasp the darkness that lurks within humanity only the truly lost will embrace. But of the two works, Raimi's moves at an almost frantic pace in comparison to Smith's. Still, the choice is clear in the long run.
What's worth checking out?: Both.