Stephen King's Rose Red

Starring: Nancy Travis, Robert Blanche, Matt Keeslar, Kimberly Brown & David Dukes
Warner Home Video
RRP: £19.99

Certificate: 12
Available now

A college professor pays a group of psychics to spend a weekend with her in Rose Red, the most notorious haunted house, where 26 people have died or gone missing. These days it appears to be a 'dead cell', but the obsessive scientist secretly plans to awaken the house with the presence of an autistic girl who possesses remarkable telekinetic powers...

There's no doubt that Stephen King has a huge fanbase; the proof is in his continued status as an international best-selling writer. However, I don't consider myself one of them, at least not via the printed word. In my experience, you could pretty much tear the middle third from his doorstop novels without fear of losing your way in the plot. I think his imaginative ideas are much better suited to the screen.

These adaptations quite often work well (The Dead Zone, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, and Misery, for example), and quite often they do not (too many to mention). In this case it's simply overkill.

A crew of 800 people worked for four months to film this miniseries. It's evident from the start that the majority of the budget went on the life-size and model sets, which are extremely effective. Having said that, the story should always be paramount, and in Rose Red very little happens for long periods at a time. This would have worked well as a half-hour Twilight Zone type of tale, but more than four hours is simply too long.

The actors portray their parts quite well, considering they have next to nothing to work with. It's interesting to note that on a making-of featurette it's revealed Steven Spielberg approached Stephen King to write the ultimate haunted house script. Before it came to fruition, King sustained injuries in a serious car accident. By the time he recovered, Spielberg had moved on to other things (sensible chap), and so King made alternative arrangements for its completion.

Rose Red contains all the clichés in the book: an overgrown manor house, mist, phantom draughts, whispering spirits, and even a walking suit of armour and sinister paintings. For goodness sake, Scooby-Doo was parodying this sort of thing in 1969!

There are a couple of nice touches: the house expanding and reshaping itself, its proximity in the centre of modern Seattle, and a garden statue pulling off its own face, but these are few and far between.

What is worth watching is a half-hour historical documentary of Rose Red and its occupants, told in the style of factual events and research, backed with evidence from the rediscovered Lady Rimbauer's diaries.

As for the main feature, it should be renamed Watching Paint Dry - The Movie!

Ty Power


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