Rose Red (Craig Baxley, 2001)
[originally posted 1Feb2002]
Craig Baxley, who did such a wonderful job with the adaptation of Stephen King’s Storm of the Century (and recently completed an adaptation of one of my favorite woefully underappreciated books, Brooks Stanwood’s chilling The Glow [ed. note 2014: it’s awful]), took on another written-for-the-small-screen King miniseries and came up with an opposite effect. In all the places where Storm was great, Rose Red stumbles.
The plot surrounds a haunted house in Seattle (can we all say The Winchester Mansion, folks?) and a professor of child psychology, Joyce Reardon (Nancy Travis, of So I Married an Axe Murderer fame), who believes that the key to getting hard evidence of the paranormal phenomena in the house lies in a sixteen year old autistic girl named Annie (Kimberley Brown, of various Nickelodeon movies and A Bug’s Life). She also invites Annie’s sister Lauren (Melanie Lynskey, most famous as Kate Winslet’s foil in Heavenly Creatures) and a plethora of other psychics along for the Memorial Day Weekend ride.
The main problem with Rose Red is that, despite a cast that redefines “high-powered” where TV miniseries are concerned, the whole thing is painfully overacted. Of the entire cast, only Julian Sands (as psychic Nick Hardaway) and Lynskey deliver performances that would seem out of place on a daytime soap opera. Storm of the Century gave us a cast of then-relatively-unknowns who played their parts with chilling minimalism. The comparison is painful.
Worth seeing if you’re a King completist, but Storm of the Century or the video release of The Stand (six hours on tape, eight on TV) is a much better way to spend a long King-soaked afternoon. ** ½