EW Staff
January 17, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

Too much family togetherness this holiday season might tempt one to take a page from this Handbook, a relentlessly morbid black comedy. There’s vomit galore as teen misfit Graham Young poisons his stepmother, along with almost everyone else who crosses him. The film, based on a true story, follows Graham through his crime career, his years at the aptly named Harshhurst mental hospital, and his reentry into a world that puts too much stress on him. As Graham, O’Conor is magnetic, which may explain the rave reviews Handbook garnered in its theatrical release. But on the small screen, the story comes off as too lugubrious to be zany, too mean-spirited to be comic: bad taste that tastes bad. C+

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