Monday, 27 January 2020

Looking Back at Stephen King's "Rose Red"


A group of people with psychic powers are invited to spend the night in a haunted house.

Stephen King and mini series go hand in hand and here we have a look at what is in my opinion is one of his best.


Back when this mini series was released my teenage self had not long discovered the wonderful books of Stephen King and I was in that glorious stage where it was all new to me and I was seeing and reading it all for the first time (how I'd love to go back to that time and do all that again). 

I had watched "The Haunting", I'd actually gone to the cinema with a group of friends to watch it, so when I watched "Rose Red" my young teenage mind was thoroughly confused. It looked like the same story but just done a bit differently. It wasn't until I was a bit older that I found out what it was all about.


"Rose Red" is a loose remake of the '65 film "The Haunting" which was the film version of Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting Of Hill House", which King has stated many times as one of his all time favourite novels. Whilst writing the script King unfortunately had a car accident and the project obviously got shelved whilst he was in hospital.

It was actually supposed to be a feature length film but during Kings recovery he reworked the story into a mini series, a format he has often stated he much prefers. I'm a big fan of the format myself as it allows the story to expand without it being rushed and also allows for greater character development.   



So instead of what may have been a two hour feature we actually got over four hours of material to watch. King stated that he found writing this very therapeutic and it helped in aiding his recovery, although he was only able to write for forty five minutes a day he stated it was vital for him.

What we also see is King incorporate the story of the house with pieces of others most noticeably the Winchester Mystery House, I have to say this works really really well. After everything was finally finished the date was set, it would premiere on the 27th January 2002 and would run for three consecutive nights.


Was it a success though? Well ask ABC who reported that it had a viewership of over 18.5 million. Though as always with Kings work there were many critics who just didn't get it, one of the main complaints seems to be too much not happening and the story being a bit of a slog to get through. 

These are the usual complaints I see with Kings' miniseries, personally I think this is one if his best. One of the big differences here is that there was no book beforehand so there was no expectations or restrictions to adhere to, but this was like watching a novel unfold before our eyes and I absolutely loved that.


I can understand why some viewers found this labourous to watch but like I said it was like watching a novel unfold on screen, downtime and all, but between the absolutely stunning sets, creepy atmosphere and a great cast thrown in for good measure, in my opinion it really does make for some great viewing.


I would be interested to see what this would've looked like as a feature film, I wonder if it had been done in that format with a tighter running time it would've got a better mainstream reception. Spielberg was attached to the project when a film was being talked about but he and King had too many creative disagreements.


Mick Garris, who had directed quite a few of Kings screenplays was also offered the project but he ultimately turned it down also. This is one of them 'what if?' moments. I imagine The Spielberg project would've been a hell of a lot more mainstream, Garris would've done a good job like he always has.

It wouldn't shock me if this project would be rebooted, Kings work is as popular as it has ever been and were seeing old projects get remade all the time so yeah, it wouldn't surprise me at all. The question is would you want to? Also if it did happen would you want it in mini series format again or a feature film?


"The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer" was a film made after the success of "Rose Red" and if you enjoyed the mini series then I highly recommend you give it a watch, it rounds out the story nicely and even works as a stand alone film.

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