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Rose Red

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(2002) Rose Red
Stephen King's Rose Red
Director: Craig Baxley
Signature villain Various phantoms in the mansion
Released: 2002
Setting: Seattle, Washington

Rose Red (aka Stephen King's Rose Red) is the chilling tale of Dr. Joyce Reardon, an obsessed psychology professor who commissions a team of physchics and a gifted 15-year-old autistic girl, Annie Wheaton, to literally wake up a supposedly dormant haunted mansion - Rose Red. Their efforts unleash myriad spirits and undercover horrifying secrets of the generations who have lived and died their.

Plot

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. Reardon's team unleashes the spirit of the house, leading to several deaths and the revelation of the mansion's secrets.

Rose Red was built in 1906 by wealthy oilman John Rimbauer for his wife, Ellen. Rimbauer used much of his wealth to build the mansion, which was in the Tudor-Gothic style and situated on 40 acres (160,000 m2) of woodland in the heart of Seattle on the site of a Native American burial ground. The house was rumored to be cursed even as it was being constructed; three construction workers were killed on the site, and a construction foreman was murdered by a co-worker.

While honeymooning in Africa, Ellen Rimbauer fell ill (from an unspecified sexually transmitted disease given to her by her husband, most likely herpes[1]) and made the acquaintance of Sukeena, a local tribeswoman. The two women became very close while Sukeena nursed Ellen back to health, and Sukeena accompanied the Rimbauers back to the newly completed Rose Red. The Rimbauers had two children, Adam and April (born with a withered arm), but Ellen quickly became unhappy with her marriage to her philandering and neglectful husband. Deaths and mysterious disappearances became more commonplace at the house. One of John Rimbauer's friends died of a bee sting in the solarium, while his business partner (whom Rimbauer had cheated out of his share of the oil company's profits) hung himself in front of Rimbauer's children. Six-year-old April also disappeared in the house, and Sukeena was tortured by the police after being suspected of her murder. John Rimbauer appeared to commit suicide by throwing himself from an upper window (although viewers of the miniseries later learn that he was murdered by Ellen and Sukeena).

Ellen and Sukeena continued to live in the house after John Rimbauer's death. After a spiritualist seance, Ellen came to believe that if she continued to build and expand the house, she would never die. She used nearly all of her dead husband's fortune to continually add to the home over the next several decades, enlarging it significantly. The mysterious disappearances continued to occur, however, and both Ellen Rimbauer and Sukeena eventually disappeared in Rose Red.

For several years after Ellen's disappearance, only servants occupied Rose Red. Adam Rimbauer, who inherited the house, lived there for a short time with his wife. However, he abandoned Rose Red after witnessing several paranormal events. After his death and with the family fortune spent away, his wife sold off many of the home's antique furnishings, and generated some income by permitting the fictional "Seattle Historical Society" to give tours of the house. These tours ceased in 1972, after a participant disappeared while on a tour of the mansion. Investigations for paranormal phenomena were conducted on the property in the 1960s and 1970s. But these also ended, and the house fell into disrepair.


The miniseries begins in the year 2001. Steven Rimbauer, the great grandson of John and Ellen Rimbauer, has inherited Rose Red. He has been offered a substantial sum of money to have the house torn down and the site developed into condominiums. But he is intrigued by the paranormal history of the house, and has agreed to allow one more investigation of the mansion.

The miniseries opens with a prologue set in 1991. The young autistic girl Annie Wheaton (played as a child by Kristen Fischer and later as a teenager by Kimberly J. Brown) is drawing a picture of a house as her parents and older sister, Rachel (Melanie Lynskey), argue outside her room. As she draws lines down over the house in her picture, rocks fall through the roof of an identical house belonging to an elderly couple down the street whose dog had bitten Annie, severely damaging the building.

The setting now switches to 2001. Dr. Joyce Reardon (Nancy Travis) is a professor at the fictional Beaumont University who teaches classes on psychic phenomena. Kevin Bollinger (Jimmi Simpson), a reporter for the campus newspaper, sceptically questions her about a trip she will be taking to Rose Red, an ostensibly haunted and abandoned mansion in nearby Seattle. Professor Carl Miller (David Dukes), Joyce's departmental chair who questions the validity of Joyce's research, orders Bollinger to follow Reardon and spy on a meeting with the group of psychics she is taking to Rose Red. The group includes Victor "Vic" Kandinsky (Kevin Tighe), an elderly precognate with heart disease; Pam Asbury (Emily Deschanel), a young psychometric; Cathy Kramer (Judith Ivey), a middle-aged automatic writer; Nick Hardaway (Julian Sands), a telepath with remote viewing capabilities; and Emery Waterman (Matt Ross), a young post-cognate. The group meets with Steven Rimbauer (Matt Keeslar), the last descendent of Ellen (Julia Campbell) and John Rimbauer (John Procaccino), in an auditorium at the college. Bollinger takes a photo of the group joining hands in a circle, and the photo and an article ridiculing Reardon are published in the campus newspaper. Dr. Miller takes Bollinger to Rose Red and drops him off, instructing him to obtain additional embarrassing photos once the group of psychics arrives. Kevin is greeted by Sukeena (Tsidii Le Loka) at the front door, who tells him that he is expected. Not realizing she is a ghost, Bollinger enters the mansion. He becomes trapped in the solarium, where he is pulled off-screen by an unseen force.


The back-stories of psychics Emery Waterman and Annie Wheaton are introduced. Emery Waterman is a rude, sarcastic, and obnoxious young man under the control of his domineering mother, Kay Waterman (Laura Kenny). The audience learns that Rachel Wheaton now cares for Annie Wheaton, who rarely speaks and who refers to Rachel as "Sister." The audience also learns that Dr. Reardon is having a sexual affair with Steven Rimbauer, although the film remains unclear whether she loves him or is merely using him to gain access to Rose Red.

Joyce and the group of psychics (now joined by Rachel "Sister" Wheaton [Melanie Lynskey] and a teenaged Annie Wheaton [Kimberly J. Brown]) arrive at Rose Red. The team tours the mansion. Joyce and Steven point out that the home contains many optical illusions as well as an upside-down room and a library with a mirrored floor. The team finds Bollinger's cell phone, and Steven calls Miller to confront him over his attempt to discredit the group. That night, Emery sees the ghost of an actress that disappeared from the house decades earlier; Pam dreams of the decomposing body of Kevin Bollinger; the Wheaton sisters are visited by a ghost under the bed and in the closet; and Cathy sees something moving under the carpet and her blankets. Later in the night, Pam is lured outside into the garden.

The next morning, Dr. Miller receives a mysterious voicemail message from Steven saying that Bollinger slit his wrists and wrote Miller's name in his blood before expiring. A message that cleally was not sent by Steven but a trap set up by Rose Red and its inhabitants. Alarmed, Miller drives to the mansion. Kay Waterman, too, has driven to the mansion after being unable to reach her son via cell phone. The two arrive simultaneously, and their cars collide in the driveway when Mrs. Waterman swerves to avoid what she believes to be a figure running across the road. Terrified, Mrs. Waterman begins to run through the forest on the grounds of the mansion while calling for her son. Miller, wanting to get her insurance information, pursues her. Inside Rose Red, Emery hears his mother's cries but dismisses them as an auditory illusion created by the haunted house.


On the other side of the house, Pam leads Vic into the garden toward a pond with a statue of Ellen in it. She suddenly disappears. When Vic looks down into the pond, he sees what he believes to be Pam's dead body. He attempts to pull her out of the water, but the body vanishes and he is left clutching only her nightgown. He panics and runs back toward the house. Looking back, he sees the statue come to life and has a heart attack. Vic tries to draw the attention of Emery (who is inside the house), but Emery again believes this to be an apparition and refuses to open the window. Nick arrives and tries to open the window, but it will not open and the glass cannot be broken. Vic collapses and dies in full view of Emery and Nick. Out in the woods, Mrs. Waterman is stopped and knocked unconscious by the ghost of Kevin Bollinger.

Annie Wheaton has discovered a dollhouse that is a replica in miniature of Rose Red. While standing on a chair in an attempt to reach the dollhouse, she falls and is knocked unconscious. Rachel Wheaton and Steven Rimbauer see her fall and attempt to render first aid. Meanwhile, on the other side of the house, Rose Red's windows and doors mysteriously open again. Emery Waterman, realizing that his mother's screams were not an illusion, rushes outside to look for his mother. He runs into Dr. Miller, who warns him to stay away and then flees. Emery chases Miller but cannot catch him, so he returns to Rose Red. Miller, continuing to frantically run around the grounds of the house, is found and attacked by the ghost of Kevin Bollinger.

Emery attempts to convince the others that they should all leave. They refuse, and Emery tries to depart on his own. As he does so, he runs into the ghosts of Pam Asbury and Deanna Petrie (Yvonne Sciò), the movie star who vanished in the house in the 1940s. Emery has the power to make apparitions disappear by repeating the phrase "not there," and avoids the deadly fate of his mother and Dr. Miller. As Emery is about to leave Rose Red, Annie Wheaton wakes and via psychokinesis causes the doors of Rose Red to slam shut. Emery's hand is caught in the door, and some of his fingers are severed. While the others assist Emery, Joyce Reardon asks Annie to continue to keep the doors and windows sealed, promising to give her the dollhouse if she does so. Steven, however, soon discovers that he is able to communicate with Annie telepathically, and she begins to form a friendship with him.

Later, Steven relives some repressed memories of a visit to the house with his drunken mother during which a ghostly Ellen Rimbauer appeared to him and called on Steven to aid her in continuing Rose Red's unending construction. Emery, meanwhile, suspects that Annie, not some "spirit of Rose Red", is keeping the house sealed. Nick confirms Emery's suspicions, and then informs the group that Kevin Bollinger appeared to have hanged himself in the library. The group begins to speculate that Rose Red has never been in a dormant state, and that the mansion's supernatural powers are linked to Annie and Steven (whose psychic abilities become apparent only when he is in the house because of his familial connection to the property). Nick correctly guesses that Joyce brought the psychics to the house in an attempt to reawaken Rose Red rather than simply investigate it.

The wounded Emery suggests that Annie be killed in order to allow everyone to escape, alarming the rest of the group. While in the kitchen, Cathy Kramer is attacked by Mrs. Waterman and is rescued by Nick. The two decide to tie up the deranged woman and decide to leave her in the kitchen. They agree not to inform Emery so that the unstable young man does not become more unbalanced. A ghostly Sukeena appears and drags Mrs. Waterman off into the dark wine cellar. As Nick and Cathy head back toward the main hall, the house changes around them and they become lost. A mysterious shape under the carpet chases them, and they flee. The shape begins to catch up to them, and Nick shoves Cathy into a room and slams the door behind her, turning around just in time to see a skeletal monster rushing up to him. With silence in the hallway, Cathy opens the door again but finds no sign of Nick or the entity in the empty hallway. As the house continues to change around her, Cathy ends up in the attic. Suddenly overcome by the urge to automatically write, she witnesses the murder of John Rimbauer by Ellen and Sukeena. Steven and Rachel, meanwhile, decide to look for Nick and Cathy. They find Cathy in the attic, where she is about to be attacked by a corpse-like creature. Their presence seemingly prevents the house from acting, and the corpse drops lifeless to the floor. The corpse's withered arm lets them deduce that the carcass is that of Steven's missing great-aunt (and Ellen's daughter), April Rimbauer.

The group reunites in the main hall. Emery attempts to attack Annie with a fireplace poker. Using psychokinesis, Annie animates a suit of armor and attempts to kill Emery with a halberd. Neither attack succeeds, and Joyce calms both individuals. In an attempt to uncover the secret of Rose Red, Steve creates a telepathic link between Cathy and Annie, and Cathy begins to engage in automatic writing. Annie begins to draw pictures of boulders striking the house, smashed doors, and broken glass, and soon doors and windows all over the house are opening and closing violently and glass in the windows shatters. Rocks begin to fall, destroying Mrs. Waterman's car and causing severe damage to Rose Red. Cathy automatically writes "help us" and "open the doors," prompting Annie to unseal the house. Steven, Emery, Cathy, Rachel, and Annie make their escape from Rose Red, but Joyce, now clearly insane, refuses to leave. The group is attacked by the spectre of Ellen Rimbauer, but Annie prevents Ellen from coming after them. Mrs. Waterman's ghost leaps from a mirror and attempts to draw Emery into the spirit realm, but Emery, with the assistance of Steven and Cathy, resists his mother for the first time in his life, and Mrs. Waterman vanishes again. The survivors flee to their cars as boulders rain down on Rose Red. Back in the house, Joyce suddenly realizes too late that she does want to leave, but is surrounded by the ghosts of Rose Red: Nick, Pam, Vic, Ms. Waterman, Miller, Bollinger, Sukeena, Ellen Rimbauer, and Deanna Petrie. She screams in terror as the film fades to black.

Six months later, the survivors visit Rose Red, just before the mansion is due to be demolished and replaced by condominiums. It remains unsaid whether or not the evil that inhabits the house will leave with its destruction or go on to curse the condos. They pay their last respects to the dead by laying red roses on the path leading up to the house. As they drive away, the theme from the movie "A Summer Place" can be heard, and the ghosts of Ellen Rimbauer, Sukeena, and Joyce Reardon watch the survivors depart from the tower window.

Cast

  • Nancy Travis as Professor Joyce Reardon
  • Matt Keeslar as Steve Rimbauer
  • Kimberly J. Brown as Annie Wheaton
  • David Dukes as Professor Carl Miller
  • Judith Ivey as Cathy Kramer
  • Melanie Lynskey as Rachel Wheaton
  • Matt Ross as Emery Waterman
  • Julian Sands as Nick Hardaway
  • Kevin Tighe as Victor Kandinsky
  • Julia Campbell as Ellen Rimbauer
  • Emily Deschanel as Pam Asbury
  • Laura Kenny as Mrs. Kay Waterman
  • Tsidii Leloka as Sukeena
  • Yvonne Sciò as Actress Deanna Petrie
  • Jimmi Simpson as Kevin Bollinger
  • John Procaccino as John P. Rimbauer
  • Bobby Preston as (Young) Steven Rimbauer
  • Kristen Fischer as (Young) Annie Wheaton
  • Paige Gordan as April Rimbauer
  • Robert Blanche as Mr. George Wheaton
  • Mary Jo Dugaw as Mrs. Wheaton
  • Don Alder as Douglas Posey
  • Zoaunne LeRoy as Mrs. Stanton
  • Richard Sanders as Mr. Stanton
  • Stephen King as the Pizza Delivery Guy

Fates

Chatacter Fate
Dr. Joyce Reardon Killed by the ghosts of Ellen Rimbauer, Vic Kandinsky, Deanna Petrie, Kay Waterman, Carl Miller, Kevin Bollinger, Sukeena, Nick Hardaway, and Pam Asbury.
Steven Rimbauer Survivor
Rachel "Sister" Wheaton Survivor
Annie Wheaton Survivor
Cathy Kramer Survivor
Emery Waterman Survivor, lost several fingers
Nick Hardaway Disappeared while saving Cathy, becoming a spectral inhabitant of the mansion. Killed by the ghost of Ellen Rimbauer
Pam Asbury Killed (seemingly drowned in pond while in a trance).
Victor "Vic" Kandinsky Died of a heart attack while being haunted by the ghost of Pam Asbury.
Dr. Carl Miller Killed by the ghost of Kevin Bollinger.
Kay Waterman Killed by the ghost of Sukeena.
Kevin Bollinger Killed off-screen by an unseen force.
Pizza Delivery Guy Endures rudeness from the psychics

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