This film enchanted me from the get go: it represents one of the films I had been dreaming about for years. I imagined a horror film that wasn’t too comedic that featured a good old haunted house, that took its time to establish the setting, that would startle me and make me shiver repeatedly and, first and foremost, during many hours. Any good film should last over two hours, in my opinion. Once more, it is Stephen King who approves my opinion by prolonging this one for over four hours.
This made for TV movie doesn’t circumvent the usual limitations concerning the violence, the language, the content and nudity but does its best trying. Blood is rare but the suspense compensates. Superficial bifurcations flood the scenario and the dialogues aren’t always natural but the actors still manage to do a good job. The create a chemistry between themselves similar to the one we felt in The Langoliers and The Stand, other extra-long features by Stephen King. Each character does a good job reflecting his or her generation, culture and origin. We even have the right to mental and physiological deficiencies, a usual feature in Stephen King’s work.
A child joins the ranks of the visitors. This could have been a promise for deception but let me remind you that this author doesn’t discriminate; he is not a hypocrite. Regardless of fact that an individual is ignorant, intellectual, Chinese, Jewish, senile or handicapped, his chances of survival are virtually equal to those of the others. Furthermore, the one serving as a hero will not necessarily survive to see the end. These two criteria are powerful enough to multiply the tension. Rose Red is even more skilful at this art than King’s previous work.
The lighting is always perfect. From time to time, they even try to surprise us in plain daylight and they still manage to succeed. I should underline that the puppets of the ghosts are what is most terrifying. They are mid-way between the usual specter and an old mummified cadaver. To amplify the mystery that surrounds them, their troubled past is explained to us in a split manner, in black and white, throughout the film. Trees deprived of leaves, dolls, cupboards, mirrors, upside down rooms, hangings, insects, antique music, child laughs and songs make up only a few of the elements that are marvelously developed by Rose Red to terrify you.
Here and there, some camera panoramic shots are too digital and the computer-generated special effects ruin a scene that should have succeeded, using a bit more creativity and subtlety. In addition, most of the murders are implicit. A movement, a scream, a fade to black and we are already brought to the next scene. For some this will be frustrating while others will appreciate the constant mystery brought forward by these cuts. Unfortunately, most of the terror scenes didn’t seize me as much as I would have liked. I wanted to be afraid, I wanted to shiver but I had difficulty achieving my goals. In my opinion, the reason for this is that the suspense isn’t stretched out enough.
The castle’s architecture is remarkable. Everything appears to be real. According to the legends, it fed on psychic energy to grow. Only a few of the most important rooms are presented to us but the sensation of size is truly present.
The conclusion of the Rose Red is meant to be sad, ironic and sinister. However, because the implicated character is underdeveloped, the ending fails. Furthermore, regardless of the film’s length, very little time is devoted to the description of the characters. We don’t know where they come from, discern very little about their temperament and therefore, it is difficult to become attached. Some will test your tolerance while others will make you smile. In any case, without them, Rose Red wouldn’t have a soul.
With this film, we are one step closer to the perfect film. Give it a bigger budget and let it integrate the necessary violence and I won’t have anything to complain about. Rose Red is one of the best haunted house movies to this day.