Rose Red (2002)
PLOT - Over the Memorial Day Weekend, a college professor leads a team of psychics to awaken a famous massive haunted house that's gained a popular reputation for nearly thirty disappearances and deaths over the last hundred years.
LOWDOWN - Last year I planned on reviewing and going over this mini series in time for Memorial Day. Well, instead I flew to florida to attend Spooky Empire and had my head up my ass and completely forgot. WELL...this weekend I made it a point to crack open a few beers and finally get around to watching and reviewing one of my favorite mimi series that Stephen King made.
I've said it before, but Stephen King was a HUGE part of my childhood growing up. My mother was a massive fan of his books and I have great memories of always asking her which book she was reading and hearing all about it. Over the years my sister and I watched endless movies based off his works and enjoyed his mini series as they were released. In 2002 I was in 7th or 8th grade but I remember the hype ABC was giving the release of this mini series. I didn't watch it when it originally aired but I remember a lot of people in my English class talking about watching it. Now I've loved King's mini series. The Stand was huge in my house growing up. In fact our 4-pack VHS copy was played so much I'm stunned it didn't fall apart. IT was the reason why clowns (and I'm sure I'm speaking for everyone else my age) scared the ever living shit out of me. A few years before hand, I remember taping Storm Of The Century for my mother while she was at work. This was directed by Craig Baxley Jr. the same director as Rose Red. I'm so often asked which director would I choose, Mick Garris, or Craig Baxley? See that's a tough one, Mick directed so many classics of King's, and Craig brought forth a new sense of style with Storm and Rose. I honestly can't even say. Every director that's come to adapt a piece of King's work has done a great job. (We won't bring up King himself for Maximum Overdrive.) = Ah the 1980's and coke...a very, very, very bad mix indeed.
I ended up renting Rose Red that summer at the local video store that was slowly dying a painful death down the street from my house. We rented this baby on VHS...yep 2002, one of the last years you could still do that. I remember we had rented Critters the night before and I was in a complete haze over that movie so I really didn't pay attention when we first started watching Rose Red. Well it didn't take long for my interest to get caught. This in my eyes after Burnt Offerings is the perfect haunted house movie.
First I love the Seattle setting. The opening credits over the water are simply stunning. Instead of the typical rainy overcast Seattle we all know, we're able to see the nicer side of things. With breath taking shots of the city and surrounding neighborhoods everything has a certain kind of charm to it. The second and biggest thing is the house itself. It kills me this house really doesn't exist. In fact years ago I listened to the commentary to this movie and laughed that tons of people came to the producers asking where the real house was located since they were interested in buying it. Nope, sorry guys...the entire house was a set or CG. = Bummer
I find houses like this more scary than any gothic castle in horror movies. Houses like this remind me of the homes used in the Dan Curtis movies in the 60's and 70's. I guess I'm a sucker for set design, but the amount of detail that was put into this house was unreal. It just seemed cozy, the wood work, the wallpaper, the colors, ect. The house itself seemed very inviting and not scary at all which makes it even more scary when the shit starts hitting the fan. I loved the rooms in the house. The mirrored library, the upside down office, the tower, the giant rooms with the huge fire places. My dream would be to wander around these sets. Simply stunning. In fact I would go so far to say the sets in this movie are by far the coolest.
Stephen King wrote this movie when Steven Spielberg approached him saying he wanted to make the greatest haunted house of all time. After King banged out a treatment for this story and gave it to him. Spielberg wanted a more "family friendly" movie and passed on King's story. (Really? You go to Stephen King for a family friendly movie...) Anywho, King wrote the screenplay for this story and a jointed book written as the professor who's investigating the house. I read it myself and not exactly a thrilling novel, but pretty cool to look more into the history behind the house and how honestly fucked the family who owned it was. Still, I can dream about a book based off the actual movie being written some day.
The next thing that was stellar was the cast. This was utter and complete perfection. I really hadn't seen nor heard about Nancy Travis since the Three Men And A Little Baby movies. She played the driven bitchy...and very unstable Joyce. Loved how pissed she is whenever Steve takes over telling stories about Rose Red. This woman goes off the deep end very quickly and loved the final scene with her in the house.
There's Matt Keeslar who I remember from Waiting For Guffman and Scream 3. He plays a typical every day Joe who's sleeping with Joyce (what an odd pairing) but did a good job in his role. Nothing memorable but good enough. Kimberly J. Brown does a great job as Annie, the gifted girl who really does pack a punch with her performance. Melanie Lynskey plays "Sister" Annie's older sister Rachel. I don't know, every time I see her I think about two and a half men. Still, she did a nice job as the sister even though she did overact a bit. Matt Ross plays the very unlikeable and overweight Emery. By far one of the most annoying characters ever to grace the small screen. Loved the mouth breathing! His character and his mother were so annoying and weird it was down right laughable. I'm still stunned that Matt gained weight and put on a fat suit for this role. Talk about acting!
Julian Sands plays Nick, oh Julian...I have some memories of you from when I met you at HorrorHound. Simply...no words lol. A class act indeed. His character Nick was my favorite, not only was he charming and handsome he also seemed like the most interesting character in the entire story. Wish he could have gotten more screen time. His end is down right heartbreaking.
There's Kevin Tighe, Judith Ivey, and Emily Deschanel in supporting roles. I like them all and that's hard to say for a story like this to have all supporting characters I liked but it's true. They all brought something to the table. In fact I love the scene of Tighe, Ivey, Deschanel, and Sands at the sports bar. I could have watched these guys for hours. Yes the Ivey character became a little annoying as did Deschanel (HATED the scene when Joyce asks her character to feel the doorknob and she rolls her eyes and goes "All right..." I would have flipped, Um, excuse me I'm paying you five grand you better bet your ass your gonna work for it.") "Sigh..." I'm okay...
The backstory was great, loved all the flashbacks. Like I said I read the backstory book and it was eh, but still the way these scenes were filmed were completely perfect. Loved the scene when Ellen and John first arrive to the house "How beautiful you are Rose Red." Or the scene where she disappears down the hallway in 1950. Still gives me chills.
I loved the practical makeup in this movie. The corpses were by far the best. Crypt Keeper realness. This movie had a blend of CG and practical effects. Some of the CG looks dated but for the most part it still holds up almost thirteen years later. I loved the makeup on the ghosts, bodies, and creatures. Loved the scene of the actress in bed with Matt Ross. That's what I call a killer puppet.
I've always loved stories about haunted houses, and psychics and this is a story that honestly could be told in any period time. It's almost like King's take on a classic hammer horror. I love the pacing of the story and how quickly it picks up. The first DVD is mostly backstory, taking it's time to a slow build that works perfect. In the second half it's down right terrifying. Love how crazy everything gets, and how things start to pick up. (Love the shots of Joyce...clearly pregnant walking around filming.) I love the stone stature, the crows, the vampire ghosts, and corpses, and of course the huge blow out ending. With a sad, yet fitting ending I feel a movie like this should have and deserves a sequel. Instead we got a prequel which wasn't as amazing as the first mini series. I watched it back at school and honestly wasn't impressed. Lots of details were missing, and the pay off wasn't as good. I think it needs a re-watch from me but I remember not really being impressed.
Years ago I came upon a blog that was honestly amazing. It was called Unraveling Rose Red. It had a fake character named Ally I think? Who was engaged to the Sands' character. This was one hell of a site. It was in her POV talking about her life with her fiancé before he went missing and how devastated she was after the house took him. It went into her quest of finding him, and how she bought one of the condos build over what remained of the house. Sadly the blog got taken down years ago but whoever ran it did a truly amazing job. It was like reading a soap opera. It went into details with photographs, evidence, and how crazy this woman was to learn the truth. How about a sequel like that?!
Anyways, Rose Red to me in a comfort movie. It's a classic tale of haunting with an amazing cast, great effects, and stunning settings, and a great story from King himself. They truly don't make them this way anymore!