Review : Rose Red (2002)

Rose Red is not exactly an adaptation as it is not based on a Stephen King book. King actually wrote the screenplay of this mini-series. The series premiered on ABC in January 2002. The story is divided into three parts, each taking place in present time with flashbacks in the early 1900’s.

Dr. Joyce Reardon, an unorthodox university psychology professor, leads a team of psychics to the massive and antiquated Seattle mansion known as Rose Red in an attempt to record data which would constitute scientific proof of paranormal phenomena. The mansion is publicly thought to be haunted, as at least 23 people have either disappeared or died there and the interior of the house appears to change or increase in size, yet only from the inside. Reardon’s team awakens the evil spirit possessing the house, leading to several deaths and the revelation of the mansion’s deadly secrets. (source : Wikipedia)

I have mixed feelings about Stephen King’s Rose Red. I did enjoy the series but I admit my attention dropped when I reached the 3-hour mark (the entires series is around 4 hours long and I don’t recommend watching it in one sitting, like I did). There is plenty of good things about Rose Red, and just as many bad things.

The location is great, the house’s exterior is both inviting and unsettling. The mansion looks nice and luxurious but as most of those huge properties (at least, in my opinion), “haunted” is written all over it. I was quite impressed how they shot scenes to give the illusion that Rose Red is in the middle of Seattle. It works perfectly. The set design is also fantastic and you feel as lost as the characters inside those endless halls.

I really enjoyed the structure of the story. The flashbacks were well integrated and I liked how they took place whenever a character is explaining the story of Rose Red. It flows really well. My main complaint is that we don’t see the ghosts nearly enough. Their make-up was great and some of them are genuinely scary. The house itself is a character, which unfortunately gets more attention than the ghosts themselves.

But what really, really doesn’t work in Rose Red is the characters. There is too many of them and not a single one is worth caring about or even remotely interesting. The worst of them all is Emery, who has visions. I have no idea what Matt Ross thought he was doing but he gave one of the worst performances ever. I still wonder what is the deal with this stupid disgusted look he has in almost every single scene ! His character is annoying in essence but also to simply look at. The little girl, who is supposed to be autistic, shows autistic traits only when it serves the story. She speaks a few words, then is only capable of making sounds and pointing. The rest of the cast, including the main character (the doctor who goes insane a la Moby Dick), are forgettable.

Overall, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy Rose Red. The story behind the house’s dark secrets is interesting…way more interesting than what is happening to the characters in present time. The ghosts are great, though I wished they had more screen time. I recommend watching Rose Red but do yourself a favor and pause between each part.



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