As most of us know, remakes are never as good as the original. Case in point, Kubrick”s “The Shining” was definitely a cut above author Stephen King”s own television adaptation of his novel. The so-called master of horror is at it once again to prove that “The Haunting” would have been better if done his way. Alas, King”s deplorable “Rose Red” exudes nothing but trivial ploys and an overwrought script. It”s enough to make Shirley Jackson roll over in her grave.
Starting Sunday and airing over the course of three nights, “Rose Red” examines the supernatural energy encased in a Seattle mansion built by John Rimbauer, a wealthy oil magnate, for his new bride, Ellen. Even as building on the house began, extremely odd occurrences plagued the house particularly the mysterious and violent deaths that befell some of the workers. Legend holds that John was a cad, constantly cheating on his nave wife. On her behalf, the house allegedly began to consume (literally of course) these women and kill men who had become a threat to Ellen. Topping off the mysterious disappearances, the Rimbauers” own daughter vanished, taken into the folds of the house.
After John”s apparent suicide and Ellen”s own disappearance in 1950, the house which had grown quite extravagant from Ellen”s wish to keep building was shut down and has laid dormant for the past decade. Well, dormant except for the fact that the house has kept growing on its own accord, effectively able to shift its shape and size at will. Presently, the house is about to be razed on the orders of the Rimbauers” surviving grandson, Steven (Matt Keeslar, “Psycho Beach Party”), who fears the evil of Rose Red. Yet, why let all that good psychic energy go to waste? Pressured into giving the house one last “wake-up” call by his lover, Professor Joyce Reardon (Nancy Travis, “So I Married An Axe Murderer”), Steven opens up Rose Red for a rag-tag group with psychic powers on a mission to prove the existence of paranormal phenomena.
It seems unnecessary to go into great detail about the members of the group, what powers they have, etc. since night one”s only function is to provide expository information. We don”t even get into the house until night two, and even then nothing remotely terrifying happens until the third night. Suffice it to say that the extraneous members of the psychic all-stars are weeded out fairly quickly as the house begins to “feed” off of their energy. As denial and ambition overtake Reardon, she fails to heed the warnings of her cast and instead clings to her “key” (the power behind Rose Red), Annie (Kimberly Brown, “Tumbleweeds”), a 15-year-old autistic with telekinetic abilities. Meanwhile, the others have a case of the heebie-jeebies as the house brings itself to full force, as ghosts roam the hallways and nothing is as it seems.
By far, the miniseries” biggest failure (other than being completely boring) is its misuse of the cast. None of the characters are fully fleshed out, playing out in a stereotypical fashion. Nancy Travis moves from self-possessed to merely possessed overnight, while the others just sit around and say she”s under a lot of pressure. Pressure? People, the house is trying to kill you haven”t you watched a horror film before? Travis” mantra the entire movie is: “The house is alive. This house is bad.” Can we say stale?
“Rose Red” is a clear disappointment for devoted King fans who enjoyed “It” and “The Stand,” two of the seven miniseries that King has provided for the ABC network. Particularly disheartening is that “Rose Red” came about from conversations between King and director Steven Spielberg. Luckily, due to his busy schedule, Spielberg never had anything to do with this production.
If you are even considering watching “Rose Red” for the benefit of finding King in his Hitchcockian cameo, don”t bother. He shows up as a daft, “whoa man, this house is scary” pizza delivery boy in night two. And if you”re planning on watching for the late David Dukes” final performance, send your condolences instead.