Rose Red (2002)
I've always been partial to a good ghost story and have recently rekindled my interest in the genre after finally reading Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. I therefore approached Stephen King's Rose Red with moderately high expectations as it is in many ways homage to that story. However this four hour miniseries, directed by action stalwart Craig R. Baxley, failed to live up to these. The main problem is that King plagiarises virtually every major haunted house novel and movie of the last fifty years; Burnt Offerings, Legend of the Hell House, The Amityville Horror and even his own back catalogue. As a result there is too much derivative content and a distinct lack of a new perspective.
Dr. Joyce Reardon, a parapsychologist, leads a team of psychics into a mysterious haunted Seattle mansion named Rose Red. The house was built over ancient Indian burial ground, allegedly causing the estate and subsequent owners to become cursed. Due to its long history of supernatural events and unexplained tragedies, the house is a curious conundrum to the team of psychics. At least twenty three people have either disappeared or died there and the interior of the house appears to change or increase in size, yet only from the inside. It is not long before the team find that they have potentially been lured into a trap and that rather than lift the curse of Rose Red, they may well fall victim to it.
The production boasts a robust cast of good actors such as Nancy Travis, Kevin Tighe, Judith Ivey, Julian Sands and Matt Ross. The characters and initial premise involving an investigation of the haunted premises are efficiently set up. In fact the first hour seems quite promising. There is a particularly interesting plot element regarding a corridor in the house which is has been built with a forced perspective. It soon becomes apparent that it may indeed have a mind of its own. There is another sub plot involving one of the central characters battling with his pre-cognitive gift and an over bearing mother. The off screen deaths in the first act imply shocks to come.
Sadly before too long it all becomes very routine and formulaic, making that usual miniseries mistake of structuring the story around commercial breaks and feeling obliged to have a quota of scares or plot twists at regular intervals. The effects work is distinctly average and the denouement relies too much on spectacle rather than atmosphere. This adaptation certainly out stays its welcome by sixty minutes and would have definitely fared better with a faster pace and shorter running time. Stephen King adaptations always seem to be a very hit and miss affair. The 1979 version of Salem's Lot by Tobe Hooper still remains the bench mark to aspire to.