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ROSE RED (2002) (***1/2)

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If you didn't catch this TV mini-series when it was on TV, you need to catch this on video. Written by Stephen King, this mini-series is one of the better King horror adaptations in quite some time. The longer format allows enough time to build real tension and develop a great myth surrounding the central haunted house.

The story follows a group of psychics who are brought together by psychiatrist Dr. Joyce Reardon (Nancy Reardon, CHAPLIN) to awaken a long dormant haunted house called Rose Red. Steven Rimbauer (Matt Keeslar, WAITING FOR GUFFMAN) is a telepath who is the owner of the house, a descendent of Ellen Rimbauer (Julia Campbell, 2000's BOUNCE), the original cursed owner of the house where she lived with her abusive oil tycoon husband John (John Procaccino) and African maid Sukeena (Tsidii Leloka), who may all still be haunting the large estate.

The others who come to stay at Rose Red include: Rachel Wheaton (Melanie Lynskey, HEAVENLY CREATURES), the older sister of the nearly mute young girl Annie (Kimberly J. Brown, TUMBLEWEEDS), who has powerful telepathic and telekinetic powers; Cathy Kramer (Judith Ivey, THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE), who has automatic writing abilities; the momma's boy nerd Emery Waterman (Matt Ross, FACE/OFF), who has retrocognition; telepathic Nick Hardaway (Julian Sands, BOXING HELENA); Pam Asbury (Emily Deschanel), who has psychometry powers; and precog Victor "Vic" Kandinsky (Kevin Tighe, MUMFORD). Wanting to discredit Dr. Reardon's work, her psychology department head Dr. Carl Miller (David Dukes, GODS & MONSTERS) sends student newspaper reporter Kevin Bollinger (Jimmi Simpson, LOSER) to the mansion ahead of the group to check things outs. He will not leave before they arrive.

The legend of the house that the plot weaves is intriguing and is loosely based off a real life tale of a woman in California who continuously added rooms onto her mansion under the notion that if the house was never finish being constructed she would never die. A tie-in novel has been published to coincide with the production, written under the name of Reardon as a history of Rose Red and it's original owners.

The large cast is filled with interesting characterizations. In other King tales with large casts, it sometimes feels like stock characters from central casting, but here the various personalities have deep pasts, personal motivations and play off each other well. For a film that's four hours plus it's amazing how it flows quickly and draws you in from start to finish. I really like the slow process in which we see the steady decline of the psychiatrist and the slow emotional rise of the teenage autistic girl.

It's a classic ghost story that will both thrill and chill. This one is a worthy addition to the Stephen King mini-series ranks along with IT and THE STAND.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
Creator of Rick's Flicks Picks