Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stephen King's Rose Red directed by Craig R. Baxley (starring Nancy Travis, Judith Ivey, Melanie Lynskey, David Dukes)

Stephen King's Rose Red (2002). Screenplay by Stephen King.

I feel that I must first warn all readers of this review of the fact that this miniseries is over four hours long -- without commercials. This is simply so that everyone will know what they are getting into from the very beginning, not because I have anything against long movies per se, just long movies that are way too long.

There are several things wrong with Rose Red, but the main ones involve its relationship to previous Stephen King works. There is much familiar in this production, with references to Carrie, The Shining, Firestarter, and a tip of the hat to Cujo being the most obvious. Unfortunately, these references seem to be just there in order to move along an already-thin plot, not leaving a lot to recommend it.

Nancy Travis (who was so good in the Hollywood remake of The Vanishing) is sorely miscast as paranormal researcher Joyce Reardon (the supposed author of book tie-in The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer); she just doesn't have the presence to be believable in such an academically passionate role. The usually-wonderful Judith Ivey is ill-used in a histrionic performance.

On the other hand, soap veteran Kimberly J. Brown knows just how to wring every last bit of sympathy from the audience in her role as Annie Wheaton, the catalyst meant to "wake up" the events at Rose Red. Her sister, "Sister," is played by Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures), who, despite her relatively small role, fares the best of all the cast (or perhaps because of it).

Matt Ross and the late David Dukes are both quite game in their roles (Emery Waterman and Professor Miller, respectively). But Dukes's character is one-note (sad to think it was his last role), and Ross's acting crescendos throughout the film from "subtle" to "absolutely annoying."

After about two hours of exposition, the plot actually begins to move a bit, but it is always slowly, and it is not worth the lackluster "inspirational" ending. For a horror movie, far too many of the cast of Rose Red survive — if more than two or three people are left at the end of a "haunted house thriller," the audience has been cheated.

One would think that Stephen King would know how to write a bang-up ending, especially for something that is partially based on Carrie, which epitomizes the shocker ending. But unfortunately, Rose Red is just one four-hour-long disappointment.

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