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Not horrible, but I expected much better...

Author: Kayla PeeDot ( from Seattle, WA
10 April 2002

To be blunt, a Stephen King novel turned movie should have been much better. The only installment worth anything was the third showing, and even then it was not anything spectacular. It's just your average haunted house story, in your average haunted house setting. Certainly nothing to write home about.

Melanie Lynskey, however, was great, and I've always enjoyed her diverse work. Nancy Travis on the other hand sorely bothered me and could only seem to play her part in one way. Simply, she bored me. Quite frankly all of the characters had no real character. They were pretty one dimensional and consequently very predictable.

There were a lot of unexplained circumstances that were just left alone. I found myself not caring very much about them before too long.

I must say the worst was the first episode. I am willing to bed that it lost half of its viewers, because the majority of the two hours was Nancy Travis' character complaining and discussing all of the same boring things over and over.

The only thing that kept me entertained was the "what are they going to do next?" factor. Still, at times, I hardly gave much care for it.

The highlight of the movie was Stephen King's infamous cameo, this time as the pizza guy. He's a good sport, that Steve.

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Still trying to decide if I liked it or not

Author: Elfie-5 from New England
28 February 2002

To start with, I really didn't "get" the ending. I'm not sure what we were supposed conclude about Ellen, April and her maid; nor did the automatic writing scene, Pam's fate, or the time-line involving the hapless reporter make much sense. Yet, I don't dislike the movie despite its glaring short-comings. I suppose the movies you think about long afterwards are worth seeing even if you don't formulate a solid opinion of it one way or the other.

I was surprised that one of the other comments suggested that the character of Annie would be more realistic had she taken her ideas from Rain Man; Annie isn't an idiot savant. Personally, I found her take to be fairly realistic, at least comparing the character to the autistic children I work with. The scene in which she was requested to say "good morning" could have been lifted from any number of morning circles at school. Admittedly the children I work with are younger(3-6), I didn't think the character was much different from them- though she didn't echo back what people said at all, which I thought was a little odd. I don't think that her take could have been expected to be any more "authentic" in this type of movie, which doesn't give one hours for character development.

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Rose Red - Some Stories Are Born Clichéd

Author: jester-15 from Seattle, WA
19 February 2002

Stephen King movie adaptions have become quite a conundrum. He has lambasted most of them for altering characters and flow. Most notable: Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining. King purists stick to the argument that the phenomena and events he describes simply cannot be captured visually. Rose Red represents ABC's latest attempt at the horror master's work. Scripted and executive produced by King, it's more ironic than terrifying; the only example I've seen where the movie's shortcomings originate from Stephen King's story rather than the production values or casting. The three part mini-series revolves around a haunted house, called Rose Red, in Seattle. Built in the early twentieth century by a wealthy oil-baron as a wedding gift to his wife, death and mystery were associated with the home since its birth. Women disappeared and men were found dead due to apparent suicides. The wife, Ellen Rimbauer, continued building until she vanished within the maze of halls and staircases. Over time the Rimbauer house fell into disrepair, but continued to grow on its own. Enter Dr. Joyce Reardon (Nancy Travis), a pretty college professor eager to prove the existence of paranormal phenomena. She is transfixed on the place. `It's a dead cell. We need to wake it up.' Since no one has been there for years, the good professor signs up a rag-tag group of psychics and clairvoyants, each with their own special gift, to spend Memorial Day weekend there. The one she is most interested in is a young autistic girl who can supposedly summon boulders that fall from the sky. Her older sister wants to get her into a special school, but alas no money. And so it goes, under similar circumstances anyway, for the rest of the team; leading them to take the money and risk their lives. Right from the introductions we know where the story is headed, but most surprising is how familiar it all is. The group has the exact same people as in King's The Langoliers. You have the suave European. The troubled little psychic girl with an illness (autism instead of blindness). The kindly old man with a secret. And of course the completely unlikable dweeb who starts sweating and going nuts the moment they reach the front gate. Other in-jokes or cheap rehashes include the pompous supervisor who doesn't trust anybody (ala The Shining's Stuart Ullman) and the out-of-her-head big woman (`You're just a lying dirty birdie!'). The latter is a bit thinly veiled, but King on the whole just comes up short. It's obvious who is going to die, who is going to live, and what each of them has to face. I wanted to believe that all of these were in-jokes, but they appear to be serious.

Nancy Travis walks us through the history one step at a time. We watch as a builder guns down the construction foreman. A sheet of glass decapitates another builder. One more chokes on a piece of apple. An old woman on a tour disappears and the cops only find her handbag. A business man is found stung to death in the solarium. Got the idea yet? They become so repetitive that we're left shaking our heads and saying `I know the house is bad already.' In fact most of Part I is dedicated solely to revealing the house's past. Why hint when there's 270 minutes to fill? Therein lays Rose Red's biggest problem. King shows us everything. Scenes are broken up awkwardly, forcing the viewer to keep track of up to four things (some fantasy and some reality) going on simultaneously. Then when matters quiet down the group completely ignores what's happened. The first paranormal event takes place just after they enter. Time passes. They forget. In Part III King seemed to have made a game of having the characters make the worst possible horror movie decisions. `Going off by himself, that was dumb.' The dweeb comments at one point. Uh huh! As always King throws in one of his trademark weapons. He's used an oversized croquet mallet for The Shining, an axe for Misery (yes, in the movie it was changed), a hammer in Needful Things, a scalpel in Pet Sematary. The list goes on. But what do we get this time around? What does the master of horror pull out for Rose Red? A hammer. Pardon my yawn. As usual, King makes a Hitchcock-esque appearance as a delivery man. Most of his past cameos have been limited to peripheral characters. A band leader. A priest. Just someone in the background. Here he is so obvious that it pulls you out of the movie. Real actors and actresses for two hours, then a deathly pale guy wearing glasses and holding a pizza bag. `Oooo look! That's the writer.' Rose Red does have its good points. The casting is solid all around. Nancy Travis comes off as likeable but driven. Her boyfriend, Steve (Matt Keeslar), is fine too. Fans of the Warlock movie series will even enjoy the presence of Julian Sands as Nick Hardaway, the gentleman psychic. (Will this guy ever live through any movie he's in?) They do their best with the script. Usually that entails just falling into one emotion and sticking with it; let the special effects and set designs do the motivating.

Its here that Rose Red shines. (Hint, hint - Nudge nudge) The shear grandeur of the house and the halls carry the emotions of the movie. One room, the gigantic library with a mirrored floor, is incredible to look at. Even the recent big-budget remake of The Haunting didn't have anything close to this. The CGI effects are overall high grade too, save for a few cheap overhead shots. The home, covered with vines and surrounded by untended trees, is beautiful, in that gothic house sort of way. Spark shooting lights and ghastly talking corpses are abound everywhere. Turn of the century Seattle is shown, carts, buggies, the whole shebang. Glass turns to liquid. Creatures walk out of walls. But with all the razzle dazzle, what happened to the plot? It went M.I.A. My personal opinion is that King's energy ran out after he completed the history portion. Maybe he didn't know where it should go after that. The modern day situation just isn't compelling enough. Once everybody is assembled within the mansion's walls it's the same fare previously seen in The Shining, but with the ensemble dynamic of The Langoliers. The problem here is the occupants are aware, or should be, of what the place is capable of, while the Torrence family were innocents. On top of his own self-plagiarism, King throws on visual elements stolen from The Frightners and House on Haunted Hill. It then builds to a climax that feels as if King just said `Ah, the hell with it'. The lights go out. The floor shakes. People get attacked by boogie men. The doors magically open in the chaos with very little time to escape. Who will make it? The real question is: Do we care? Still out of all this I cannot find fault with the direction or presentation. It's pulp, an experiment in mood, but dreaming to be more. The mini-series becomes a collage of all the stuff that should make a great horror movie, even a great Stephen King horror movie, but collapses.

The house Rose Red has a lot to it. Stairways that go nowhere. Doors that open to brick walls. Rooms that change when you're not paying attention. But such is the plot: Interesting to look at, but built with no reason of purpose. At one moment you're sure it's a haunted house movie, then it's a ghost movie, then zombies, and then something else. There simply isn't an intelligible way through the mess. Looking back, it's easy to recall images; flashes of things taking place. But why did they happen? That's up to your imagination. Quite possibly, the only thing about Rose Red that is.

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some originality, not much

Author: spooky_trix from nowhere
18 February 2002

Looks like stephen king was a big fan of Shirley Jackson, Richard Matheson, Mario Bava, Karen Black, and American McGee's Alice (VG).

Let me explain. This movie seems to be a clever remake of Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House (which was well made into the Haunting in 1963, and again, but not very well at all, in 1999, same title). However, in reality all Stephen King really did was take some elements of the book Hell House by Richard Matheson, the film Burnt Offerings, starring Karen Black (especially the solarium's plants coming back to life, this is exactly what happens in Burnt Offerings), the video game, Alice (the fortress of doors seems to be a big influence on the set designs), The Mario Bava film, Kill Baby, Kill, where you get a house that leads you where it wants you to go not the other way aroung, and most notably the true life phenomena of the Sarah Winchester Mystery House (she was told at a seance that all the spirits of those who died by Winchester rifles (especially indian spirits) would come back to get her if she didn't continually build the house, resulting in some bizarre rooms, like a staircase that goes to a ceiling and a door that leads to the outside of a very tall tower). Throw all these into the mix, and add some of stephen kings favorite subjects (psychics) and you get Rose Red.

Not to say that there is no originality here, he really added some creepy elements, like the mirrored library, the withered hand, the missing people, etc... But anybody who is a strong follower of horror movies knows its all been done before.

That said, lets concentrate on the best parts of the film: 1 - I was thrilled to see the house at the beginning destroyed by a rain of stones. This is how Carrie White's house is destroyed at the end of the novel, Carrie, and how DePalma wanted the house destroyed originally, but it was not feasible to do so. Glad to see that it is finally possible. 2 - I loved the disturbing images in the second part. Especially the perspective hallway, the movie star's corpse in bed with Emery, and the mirrored library. 3 - Suprisingly there was some good special fx with zombies here! 4 - Finally, the amazing contrast between the birds-eye view of the house and interior shots. You can see a finite structure outside, but inside there is no end to the house.

If this film were being made for theatrical release, much of the first part would be edited as it adds nothing to the story. Also many characters would probably been written out of the story, notably Victor and Pam, as they don't really add much to the story other than disturbing imagery.

Unfortunately the casting is terrible. Julian Sands is great, but his character is completely wasted. Melanie Lynskey looks bored half the time, Judith Ivey is an integral part to the ending, but she's hardly ever mentioned for the first two parts. And Nancy Travis is almost unbearable. As soon as they get into the house, she is so bitchy you are rooting for the ghosts. Finally Julia Campbell, most remembered as Christy Masters-Christensen from Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion is cast as the head villian. I'm sure anyone who reckognized her could only picture her as Christy Masters telling everyone she's a weather girl at the reunion. To the director's credit, Matt Ross is appropriately annoying, Emily Deschanel, (who's character is wasted), is hauntingly beautiful, Yvonne Scio is gorgeous and wickedly evil, and Tsidii Leloka is terrifying and perfect as the bug eyed servant.

Well apart from the problems, there is enough going on here to be more interesting than most made for tv movies, and its a hell of alot better than most stephen king movies (maximum overdrive anyone?).

8 out of 10 as a tv movie 6 out of 10 as a horror movie

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Great Haunted House Story

Author: Rocky Wood from Melbourne, Australia
16 February 2002

Tremendous screenplay and story but damaged by some poor casting (especially Nancy Travis as 'Joyce Reardon'). In Travis' case the character should be obsessed, not obviously acting as obsessed. As a leading character this failure took away a lot of the enjoyment of the mini-series. Great sets, photography and excellent special effects. Well worth watching, especially if you enjoy a very good Haunted House story and the cameo by King was most enjoyable.

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i liked it

Author: Al Bundy from los angeles
14 February 2002

The idea of a group of people spending some time in a haunted house has been done a million times. If anyone is looking for something 'new', this is not it. So, I can understand some viewer's negative opinions. Nevertheless, for me, the proof of the pudding is...'Did this mini series intrigue me?'

Yes, it did. I think the casting was excellent. The different people in the house really added to the plot, ESPECIALLY Emmery. Emmery was so weird, but you know, everyone has seen someone like Emmery. Those kind of people are out there. really weird, but just normal enough to successfully exist in our society.

The first night was pretty boring, but I really got hooked the second night.

Hey! this is TV, I don't expect 'Gone With the Wind', I just want some good entertainment. I enjoyed it.

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I really liked it...

Author: Heather Henry (trillian6x7) from Upstate NY
11 February 2002

To be honest, I always thought that Stephen King's works were kind of hindered by the television medium, but "Storm of the Century" proved that theory of mine all to bits and this one did the same!

First off; Thanks to Stephen King for being the "faithful" writer we all know and love. Whatever you give us, Stephen, is perfectly fine with me, I'll just love what I already have from you! Now, onto the movie...

Kimberly Brown has shown her excellence at such a young age! She has really gotten her start on Nickelodeon, so anyone who's a parent has seen her around.

I always thought that Julian Sands has given every movie he's been in an almost eerie (but NOT sinister) feeling. Kind of creepy, but not scary. And he brought a great sense of that to this film.

All of the actors and actresses alike worked so well together all of it was seamless, even with the commercial interruptions. How sorry it was about David Dukes though, a death during a movie filming can't be a good omen... can it??

Anyway, great movie. Edit out the commercials and it's a masterpiece! Thanks again, Stephen, for your stories. We enjoy them endlessly.

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Not King's Best, but not bad.

Author: mrspriz from Asheville, North Carolina
10 February 2002

Much of this movie was typical King, and by typical I do mean redundant. If you hate King, don't bother; this one won't make you like him. I you love King, then by all means see it. It is my opinion that the death of David Dukes during filming hurt the plot beyond repair. The ending is weak at best. Knowing this ahead of time will help prepare you and the let down won't be as bad. I am eager to read the book "The Diary Of Ellen Rimbauer" (I believe that is correct) and see where the movie differentiates.

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Great tribute to Shirley Jackson

Author: endymion9 from Chicagoland
10 February 2002

This miniseries was definitely a tribute to both Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" and the 1963 version "The Haunting". Forget the 1999 version recommended as similar here.

Well done. Worth watching!

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Rose Red- Some Pretty Spooky Thorns!

Author: tom sawyer ( from Waterford, Michigan
8 February 2002

Being a Stephen King fan, I have tried to remain objective here. I thought as a whole the series was pretty entertaining. Granted it did borrow a lot from the Haunting. Was it great? No, but it was pretty damned good. All I can ask from anything is to keep me interested and entertained. Rose Red did both. Personally, there is no way in hell I would go around by myself and explore the house like these people did. Hell, I wouldn't even go inside it during the day time. The mini series was entertaining and interesting. All in all, it was pretty good. I can hardly wait to read the book. This mini-series ranks up there with Salem's Lot, It, The Stand and the T.V. version of the Shining. Good spooky and entertaining fair. A must for horror fans

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