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Someone said this was "too long" and made the comment that longer books
don't translate well to screen. However, if they knew anything about Rose
Red, they would know that it was never a book. It was written directly for
the screen by Stephen King. As I watched the film, I kept thinking how much
it was like a novel come to life! Then I was watching the featurette "The
Making of Rose Red" on the DVD and Stephen King as well as the director said
that it was really just a novel that was played out on screen. It is so
I am an avid fan of King's work, and this film was a real treat, because it
was just like reading one of his books. It it not SUPPOSED to be your
typical 90 minute work (as King says, he feels like that is similar to
stealing all the towels in the hotel room and then quickly packing them into
your bag and sitting on it to try to force them to stay in). It is much
more character driven and rich, and takes much more attention than a regular
film does. That is WHY it was a 3 part series!
If you are willing to put forth the effort--and I mean this as a COMPLIMENT to the film, for it really is like reading a novel--then you will love it. 10/10 from me!
Rose Red is basically an uncredited remake of The Haunting, based on
Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel, The Haunting of Hill House. The novel was
first made into a film by Robert Wise in 1963. Jan de Bont did a
much-loathed remake, which I prefer to the Wise film, in 1999. Novelist
Stephen King, who wrote the script for Rose Red, has long said that
Jackson's book is one of his favorites, and he's a fan of the Wise
film. The Jackson book has greatly influenced his work. I don't recall
ever hearing King's opinion of the de Bont remake, but I could imagine
that he might not have cared for it very much.
Thus, it was only natural that when Steven Spielberg contacted King about doing a haunted house film shortly after the release of the de Bont remake, King thought it would be a great opportunity to give the world an updated filmic version of The Haunting of Hill House, but done "right". Probably because of the negative public reaction to the de Bont film, and the temporal proximity (and possibly because of rights/licensing issues), it was decided to do something "original" instead of marketing another remake. But make no mistake, there are far too many similarities in the story, the structure and the visuals for this to not be a Haunting remake. Enough was changed that no one could be sued for copyright infringement, of course, and in making the changes and lengthening the film to a mini-series, King and director Craig R. Baxley have topped both previous versions of The Haunting. Rose Red is very nearly a 10. Only a couple slight missteps bring the score down to a 9.
Rather than Hill House, the name of the home is Rose Red. And rather than being in the countryside in New England, King has moved it to a hilltop in Seattle, Washington. This was a great idea, in that it gives the home an eerier feeling because of its incongruity with its surroundings, and it emphasizes the fact that the home is in its own world, with an ability to keep visitors captive, regardless of how close civilization may seem.
Dr. John Montague/Dr. John Markway/Dr. David Morrow has been changed to Dr. Joyce Reardon (Nancy Travis). The gender is different, but the aim is the same--to research the big, supposedly haunted house on the hill using the aid of some psychically inclined folks. Eleanor Vance/Eleanor Lance has been changed to Annie Wheaton (Kimberly J. Brown), now a teen, but just as "key" to bringing the house alive. Luke Sanderson has been changed to Steve Rimbauer (Matt Keeslar). He's similarly the heir looking to make some quick cash. King also gives his "hill house" a similar history, with a more typical turn-of-the-century source of fortune for John Rimbauer, who takes the place of Hugh Crain, and King lets Rimbauer's bride, Ellen, live much longer than Crain's. This all serves the story remarkably well--it gives a lot more depth to the home, and gives a good 50 years or so before the home was finally abandoned, after countless tragedies. Increasing Rose Red's active history also enabled strengthening the parallels to Sarah Winchester's "Mystery House", which had been alluded to in previous instantiations of The Haunting.
Similarly, increasing the running time of the film enabled King to go into great depth with characterization, exposition and backstory. Early material establishing Joyce as something of a quack at her university works extremely well and sets up a great subplot with a warring department head, Professor Carl Miller (David Dukes), and a student flunky, Kevin Bollinger (Jimmi Simpson). Annie works 100% better as a character than Eleanor, and King gives us a psychological intensity in her familial situation that easily trumps Eleanor. The increased running time also enables a large cast of characters for Rose Red to play with--that was always one of the problems with the other films. There just weren't enough people around to work with or make the experimental situation believable. The larger cast enables a typical King Ten Little Indians-styled gradual character knock-off, which for me helps the story work better as horror. It's notable that the deaths and the appearance of otherworldly antagonists in Rose Red are more graphic and brutal than the other versions of The Haunting, despite the fact that Rose Red was made to initially air on ABC television in the U.S. King and Baxley do a great job of pacing the build-up to violent chaos over the film's 4-hour running time.
Although de Bont's film is well known and deservedly respected at least for its eye-popping, opulent sets, Baxley also trumps that aspect conceptually. Rose Red isn't nearly as grandiose, baroque or decorative as de Bont's Hill House, but it's even more bizarre and surreal, and Baxley better keeps it in the realm of spookiness.
Also far better than any other version of The Haunting, King and Baxley expertly develop complex subtexts and motivations for characters. These are too numerous to mention here, but the most interesting and important one may be Joyce's gradual transformation from lovable kook to manipulative, obsessive maniac. There are increasing suggestions in later scenes that Joyce may be possessed by some spirit, but smartly, Baxley and King keep this ambiguous--it's just as believable that her own monstrous side is finally emerging.
Unfortunately for all of its brilliance there are a couple minor flaws with Rose Red. There is a muddled section during the crew's first night in the home, when some members go wandering around and unintentionally shed their mortal coils. There are also a couple later sections with characters wandering around the house in a panic that are just a bit too stretched out--it can begin to feel more like padding to meet running time requirements than plot necessity. However, these flaws are minor, especially given the breadth of the film. Rose Red is a must-see for any haunted house film fan.
For the rest of you, though, this mammoth 250 minutes horror miniseries, is well worth the time. Stephen King has probably created one of his best screenplay-to-screen only works (not based on a novel) in "Rose Red", a chore usually not too successful ("Sleepwalkers", anyone?). This haunted house tale, about a creepy enormous mansion in Seatle, and the intrepid psychics that go there for a "field trip", boasts amazing production design and sets, fine acting, especially by Nancy Travis as the determined Joyce Reardon and Matt Ross as Emery ("Go and warn someone who isn't broke!), and decent special effects (especially considering this is made for TV). Although not everything is always clear, and although the middle part tends to sag a little, this is a high quality mini-series which amazingly manages to sustain interest through four hours of haunted house shenanigans, one of the most overused themes in horror. It's length also allows it to dedicate the first hour to character development and story buildup, so that when the characters walk for the first time into "Rose Red", we are almost as anxious as they are. this wouldn't have worked in a two hour film.
There are so many of King's books that didn't go over well as movies. And this one, which was never even a book, did really well. If you have a Friday night and a lot of popcorn to kill, this is a decent one to settle down with. A lot of the actors are unknown, but pull this off well. I like how it's not just a group of people going to spend the night in a haunted house and win money and fame shtick. (i.e. the new House on Haunted Hill) I also liked how all the people who went had a unique specialty in the paranormal/supernatural. Also, it has the regular blend of characters you love to hate, ones who are suspicious, and the adorable ones that you hope don't make the mistake of investigating unknown noises in the middle of the night alone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Three deaths occurred within one year of construction before the house
was finished in 1909. Rose Red was given her name by Ellen Rimbauer
(Kimberly Brown), the new wife of John Rimbauer's (Steven Brand). After
Ellen died at the age of seventy, the house lay dormant. A woman on a
tour of Rose Red in 1950 disappeared, and it was closed. Dr. Joyce
Reardon (Nancy Travis) became interested in Rose Red as a way to prove
her thoughts of paranormal activity being real. She is most interested
in AnnieWheaton (Lisa Brenner) to come; she thinks Annie is the key to
reawaken the house. Annie is an autistic child with the power of
telekinesis. Eventually the house and Annie become one. The house is
alive when she is awake and at rest when Annie is sleeping.
Rose Red owned Ellen and her life. Anyone crossed her or became more important to her would disappear or die in the house. Ellen lived a life of heartbreak and anger. Her husband cheated on her constantly. She loved her daughter, April Rimbauer (Courtney Burness), more than anything. April eventually disappeared. When Ellen finally died at the age of seventy, she was forever trapped in Rose Red. She remained at Rose Red after death to hurt anyone who came, just as she was hurt. There truly are evil places in the world. How else could we explain the findings that paranormal psychologist found? The message of the movie is that things are never forgotten even in death. If we are hurt that bad in life, there is the possibility of us taking it to the grave and beyond.
The audience must have the patience to watch a four hour movie. Of all the ghost movies I've seen this is the best even though it is long. I recommend it for a rainy day. The details which make the movie long don't seem contribute much to the film's plot. 'Rose Red' is not for the faint of heart: it is very gory and violent.
Though most people did not appreciate this movie due to lack of insight, I still found it interesting and mentally exercising. I do agree that some of the down time should have been used to go into depth on the characters but it also makes me use my mind to fill in the blanks which could make the movie even more fun and eccentric. Stephen King knows how to tap into peoples minds. This movie didn't scare me or make me jump at the time I was watching it. It was a few days later when I actually started to think about it and analyze it that it struck a cord. It makes you think about the possibilities and consequences. Well all in all I liked this mini series and though I do think they could have done better, it was still mentally captivating.
I don't see why anyone said this mini was too long. I think it kept up a good pace all the way through. Some wonderful special effects for a tv movie. Some very creepy ghosts. Good acting all around. This has got to be one of the best Haunted House flicks I've ever seen. I saw it again a few days ago, and I'm still a little nervous about walking down a dark hallway at night. It was that good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Once upon a time there was an author who could spin a good yarn about
some horrific occurrence in some place, namely Maine, or Colorado. He
had a way of slowly enveloping the reader with characters caught in a
mystery that partially revealed itself, and while delving into the
supernatural, plausibility was never sacrificed in lieu of
Of course, once that author began seeing he could make money in droves by basically adapting older horror stories and horror clichés into new book versions, quality went right out the window, never to be seen again (except on rare, non-horror stories, tales about a coming-of-age, or crime novellas).
And of course, falling in love with his prose also became a trademark. Telling tales with a didactic tone in which everything is seen and even minor flashbacks have to be played out in extensive, overdrawn passages (which also, to me, indicates needing to play out the part of the best-selling author who has to maintain an image and sell large, fat books) made for even poorer storytelling. Not that long novels and multiple story lines don't make for good storytelling... as long as it's related to what's being told. (See Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass for a prime example of a book seventy-five percent too long and who's backstory stops this massive yet simple story dead in its tracks for almost 500 pages. By far, this has to be the most voluminous flashback in literary history, and I don't mean it in a good way, even though I have admired this author since childhood. But admiration doesn't impede me to see that he seems to have lost his touch and hasn't truly evolved in favor of "the best-seller syndrome.")
Thirty years after achieving success with Carrie, Stephen King has essentially re-hashed the same story styles over and over again and become wealthy and ubiquitous in the process. Rose Red, a screenplay adapted for TV, is a summation of all of the things I've been writing about: overlong, with too many unnecessary characters, derivative of earlier stories which in turn were remakes of earlier literary works, and as predictable as the weather. The archetype of a house gone bad, holding deadly secrets and hungry spirits within its walls. The lead character who either comes back to face his demons or becomes obsessed, like Captain Ahab, by its secrets and subsequently dives into madness. The overuse of a child's nursery rhyme (used masterfully by Hitchcock). The presence of the loud, fat overbearing mother who vomits forth screams of Judgement Day and quotes from the Bible. The unpleasant small man prone to self-preservation. The reasonable woman who suspects something is wrong but doesn't really come involved until late in the story. The psychic child who acts as the catalyst, sometimes creepy, sometimes verbose, sometimes severely damaged, and who has the monster mother (or father, or both) for baggage. The evil which cannot be destroyed, ever, like mold, and feeds on the psychic prana of unsuspecting humans (foolishly) drawn to it.
It would work if there was an element of parody to the genre, but when for jolts we keep seeing dead people open their eyes as they hang from the ceiling, obvious CGI creations that simulate walking zombies and speak in seductive voices, bombastic scenes of explosions and wind, and the milky white appearance of a girl who beckons an autistic young girl to come to her (twice) while nobody does anything to help, or that laugh-inducing ending where all the ghosts slowly creep over Nancy Travis who unconvincingly carries out the aforementioned Captain Ahab role best seen previously in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining under Jack Nicholson's performance doesn't make for a good or especially frightening movie.
And the dialog... can we say cringe inducing? Like Emery's preferred "bon mot," it was simply "not there." A prime example where less is more, shorter is preferable, and atmosphere is everything. Watch only if particularly bored or if there is absolutely nothing else on.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
great flick yes it's 4 hours long but never boring it had amazing effects and a neat little story background to it and lots of cool flashbacks VERY COOL looking ghosts great character development and a very cool looking house this had a great script lots of amiable characters and some creepy moments it kept me interested all they way and we have Julian Sands he cracks me up he is also a great actor i find a lot of Steven (yes i know i spelled it wrong) King movies underrated this was a very well made movie it isn't action packed but still it was engrossing and and a cool little ending i liked how the girl Annie could make the house fall apart very cool i deem this **** out of 5
Okay, when I first heard of this film I was quite skeptical. Although I
enjoyed other SK miniseries' I did not believe that anything could make
haunted house horror films good again. I, however, was totally wrong.
film is great, it had action and horror and the acting was surperb.
Sands was excellent as he always is and the others were good too. The
thing that I did not like was the little girl who "woke up" the house. I
not like child actors if only for the simple fact that very little of them
can actually act, this girl was no exception. Other than that it was a
^_^ Have Fun!! Amanda
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