Stephen King's "Rose Red" Movie Review
I absolutely love Stephen King's Rose Red, even though it's honestly kinda goofy. It's certainly not as bold or straight-laced as some of his other hits, like The Shining or The Stand. But it provides an excellent evening's entertainment. I've passed many a pleasant Sunday afternoon, watching Rose Red on the Syfy Channel and knitting or just puttering about the house.In a nutshell, Rose Red is the story of a group of ghost hunters who gather at an abandoned mansion in Seattle to stir up some ghostly trouble. And they find it in spades! The ghost hunters are a quirky group, gathered together and led by Nancy Travis as Professor Joyce Reardon, a parapsychology professor whose tenure is hanging by a thread. The real star of Rose Red is… Rose Red! The mansion was built overlooking Seattle (in real life it would be on Capitol Hill, somewhere near the intersection of Pike and Broadway). As with the Winchester Mystery House in California, Rose Red’s previous owner, Ellen Rimbauer, just kept building. And after she died, it kept building itself. (Creepy!) “Metastasized” is the word that Reardon uses to describe Rose Red’s growth. Reardon gathers together a whole Superfriends team of psychics, although most of them fail to make any sort of impression. Julian Sands as Nick Hardaway, who sees the future; Emily Deschanel as Pam Asbury, who can read the psychic impressions on objects; Kimberly J Brown as Annie Wheaton; and Melanie Lynskey as Rachel Wheaton, Annie’s little sister. Rachel is the super-psychic who will provide the juice for Rose Red’s psychic batteries. The best of the lot is definitely Matt Ross as the doofy Emery Waterman. Stephen King means for us to despise him, but for some reason he ends up being the most likable of the lot. Perhaps it’s because of his jaded outlook. He’s only in it for the money, and he’s only been called to join because he can see ghosts, and as far as he’s concerned, this is all a crackpot business venture. He’s constantly rolling his eyes at his other team-members, as are we in the audience, and maybe we identify with him because of that. The story of their incursion into Rose Red is interleaved with the story of the house’s original owners, the Rimbauer family. Julia Campbell plays Ellen Rimbauer, a strong woman with perhaps an unusual relationship with her African-American nanny and house keeper, Tsidii Leloka as Sukeena. Speaking of Sukeena, let’s just say that racial sensitivity is not one of Rose Red’s strengths. Sukeena is portrayed as something halfway between a black mammy and an African witch doctor. You half expect her to start rolling her eyes and yelling “Lawdy, lawdy!” while waving her hands in the air at any moment. As long as we’re talking about Stephen King’s insensitivity, let’s talk about the autistic teenaged psychic. King has a thing for what I’ll call the “magical retard,” and Rachel Wheaton is no exception. Sigh. I like the first third of the mini-series better than the rest of it, although I can’t quite put my finger on why. By the time they order pizza midway through their first night at the house, it feels like all the really unique and interesting story elements are gone. What remains is a fairly typical romp through a “very active psychic phenomena,” including ghosts, zombies, and rooms that form and re-form behind you when you’re not looking. The movie rambles from beginning to end, and a lot of people have criticized it for being too un-taut. Personally, I like it that way. It’s just the right length for a long, rainy Sunday afternoon, or a mid-week night of entertainment on a winter evening. Pop the popcorn, get cozy, and settle in!
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