Saturday, March 9, 2013

Television King: Rose Red (2002)

I guess when you write the sheer volume that Stephen King does, you're bound to repeat yourself. You can't help it. Rose Red is the biggest rip off a writer has ever done of their own work. Released in 2002 after the miniseries heyday in the 80s and 90s, Rose Red is one of his few works from King's mind not based on a novel, but there are nods to some his most iconic stories such as The Shining, Carrie and Firestarter. Even more impressive is that he uses his works to take from an even greater work, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting which continues to be one of, if not the, best haunted house stories ever.


Also, partially based on the infamous Winchester House, a house built on gun money and after her rich husband died Sarah Winchester continued to build on the house with no plan. With stairs and hallways that lead nowhere, it was only a matter of time before Winchester House became a haunted destination. I guess that's it's part of King's genius (or madness) that he can combine all these stories into one. Granted the "one" is a three hour miniseries, but who's counting?

Rose Red is a house that has a life of it's own that can build additions, shift dimensions and the laws of physics at will. The house has lain dormant for the last few years so who better to go in there and stir shit up than a university professor and some psychics. Joyce the professor is played by Nancy Travis, and every time she's on screen I can't get this out of my head:

Moving on... She brings in a team of psychics which include a mean fat person, an autistic teenager, the autistic teenager's sister, an old lady, the great grandson of the couple that built the house and a bunch of other characters that I can't really recall. Joyce is a bit of an academic joke for her work in the paranormal and by spending a few days in Rose Red Joyce will collect enough data to prove ... something... I don't know. But it seemed like it was really, really, really important to her.

And then... they just sit around, swap stories and accusations while bits and pieces of the house's history are revealed. Granted, it takes them a bloody hour to just to get in the house. While I appreciate King's dedication to character development, it constantly slows the entire story down as people emote. I'd really much rather hear about the creepy history of the house, but no, you talk about how you and your mother don't get along.

See? Character development?
There are some moments of menace and tension but they quickly become goofy. A creepy figure is foreshadowed watching the group and then they pop up only to talk at someone for far too long revealing their weapons to be pun-y dialog and an odd mix of computer graphics and wonky animatronics. Like all the problems of Rose Red it relies far too heavily on retreads of better scares and stories. The camera pans around looking to fill the void of an empty and hammy story but only finds dead air.

Ever play Blair Witch Project game set in the 16th century? The graphics in Rose Red and that are remarkably similar


  1. Glad you watched it again instead of me. I remembered it being better, but maybe that was wishful thinking.

    I recently finished a series of reviews for Stuart 'Feedback' Andrews over on The Mortuary for his Ludovico Film Institute series. I chose haunted house film adaptations and The Haunting of Hill House was my first choice.

    I posted the links on my brand new twitter account if you have the time and are so inclined...@DemonOwenGarth

    1. I remembered it being pretty fun myself, but outside of a couple moments it was as dry as a decayed corpse. I'm thinking I'll need a Haunting of Hill House rewatch if only for a palette cleanse.