Rose Red (2002)

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Overall Rating 62%
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Connections: Rose Red

Dr. Joyce Reardon, a psychology professor, leads a team of psychics into the decrepit mansion known as Rose Red. Her efforts unleash the spirit of former owner Ellen Rimbauer and uncover the horrifying secrets of those who lived and died there. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: October 14, 2007
Let's be honest, Stephen King's movies are mostly considered hit or miss, but the truth of the matter is that they're mostly miss. Couple that with the facts that the movie was made for television and has a running time of better than four hours and it's hard to have any hope for this one. And unfortunately for King, it really is "Three strikes, you're out" here. I picked this one up in the $5.50 bin at Wal-Mart on the good word of a friend of mine. Same friend who got me to watch Coffee and Cigarettes. Obviously, we don't listen to her movie recommendations anymore.

Rose Red deals with a psychology professor named Joyce Reardon who has hired a team of psychics to explore the titular mansion. Rose Red has a long history of violence and psychic activity, beginning even before the building's construction had been completed. Over the years, Joyce has been completely obsessed with the place, even going so far as starting a relationship with Steve Rimbauer, the last remaining relative of its former owners. The team she has assembled has a variety of powers. Cathy is an elderly Christian woman with the power of automatic writing. By letting her mind go, she can allow spirits and other people's thoughts into her head and then unconsciously writes it down. Victor is an old man with heart problem and precognitive powers, the ability to see into the future. Nick is a kind but smart ass Brit who can read minds. Pam is a young woman who can tell an object's history by touching it. Emery is a forty year old still living with his overbearing mother. He occasionally has flashes of the past, or post cognition. However, as far as Joyce is concerned everything falls on the last psychic in the group, young Annie Wheaton. Annie is an autistic preteen with incredibly powerful psychic abilities, namely telekinesis and telepathy. When she was just a child, the neighbor's dog bit her and as retaliation she caused a storm of huge boulders to rain down on their house. After dealing with Annie's older sister, Sissy, Joyce was able to convince them to come. Rose Red is now a dormant paranormal site, and Joyce is hoping the magnitude of Annie's powers will be enough to wake it up. With her team assembled, Joyce has a meeting to let everyone in on Rose Red's back story. The mansion was built right in the middle of Seattle by John Rimbauer as a wedding present to his wife, Ellen. The two went on an expensive honeymoon around the world, John's favorite location being Africa. While they were there, Ellen contracted a serious illness and was nursed back to health by a woman named Sukeena. John apparently couldn't have cared less as he spent their time there hunting big game. Upon returning to the states, Sukeena among them, Ellen continued to build extensions to their home. She and Sukeena became close as sisters and she gave birth to two children. After the death of her husband, Rose Red continued to claim lives. Twenty-one people have disappeared in the building since then and Joyce is viewing this as the perfect way to bring some credibility to the world of paranormal studies. And being her supervisor has terminated her tenor at the local college, her obsession has become even more focused.

When first released, this was a miniseries on ABC. Honestly, that probably wasn't the best move with this one. Running longer than four hours, this flick is mostly exposition. When you sit down with it on DVD, you're a bit more likely to sit through it in it's entirety, despite being bored to tears. On TV, it's a lot easier to not go back and catch the later parts the day after if you haven't been grabbed by the first segment. It takes well into the second disc before our group enters the mansion; all the time before this is spent by Joyce dealing with her superior, blatantly manipulating Steve and making bludgeonly obvious her obsessions with Annie and Rose Red. We also get a few quick glimpses into the life of Annie's family and Emery trying to put up with his overprotective, spendthrift mother. There's really not a whole lot here to actively keep your interest through the first part of the film; the most interesting scenes are the ones with Emery's mother, the comic relief role. After they finally get into Rose Red, things do pick up a bit but not nearly enough to save it. There are ways to keep things interesting with not much going on, in fact some of these movies are the most effective but director Craig Baxley was obviously not up to the task. Even after things got rolling, the most entertaining thing going on was Emery's mother running around like a lunatic.

Fortunately, the acting here isn't horrible which helps it a little. Nancy Travis does a decent job with Joyce's obsession bordering on insanity, a role which could have very easily been overacted to Hell and back. Well done finding that that happy medium. Kimberly Brown plays Annie, a role that's the polar opposite of Joyce. As a dual result of her autism and the effects of Rose Red, she just has to sit there with a blank look on her face and not saying a word. I'm sure she's not garnering any complaints, although it's a role that's hard to mess up. Mention has to be given to Julian Sands and Matt Ross, Nick and Emery respectively. Nick is a smart ass who has a veritable goldmine to work with when dealing with geeky Emery and his mother. Not one to lie down and take it, Emery channels the bitterness in his life and fires back without fear. The chemistry between these two is great and provides some of the best scenes here. And of course, very nice job by Laura Kenny as Emery's mother, Kay. She nails that overbearing, annoying mother archetype and provides possibly the best performance of the movie. Considering she's somewhat of a background character, that's not a very good thing going for this one. Fortunately, nobody was really bad per se, so it evened out.

Once again, one of Stephen King's movie efforts flops. What really killed this one is the extended running time. Had it been a two hour movie this probably would have gotten about a 5 or 6. But a four hour movie has to have something to make the time investment worth it and thats where this one fails. Despite the few bright spots it has going for it, there's really nothing there that makes it worth it. 2/10
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added October 16, 2007 at 10:26am
This review pretty much hit the nail on the head. "Rose Red" is a rip-off of at least 10 better horror films. This is one of the worst things King has ever written and one of the worst adaptations of a King work ever. 0/10 for no effort and no creativity.
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