With Silent Hill: Downpour having been an amazing buy (I’m at 16% WOOHOO!) I’ve decided it’s time to return to the man we hold near and dear to our hearts: Stephen King.
Now, it’s been a while since they’ve produced a Stephen King mini series, so when I saw the shit-ton of advertising they did for this one, you can bet I was surprised. Then again, how could I not? I thought these had died out with the scrunchie. Oh well, in the end, who doesn’t love to hate a Stephen King miniseries?
So, this week, on Manic Movie Magic, let’s dive right into Stephen King’s Bag of Bones.
Yeah, you guys remember my The Happening review? It’s gonna be one of those….
Based on the novel of the same name, Bag of Bones aired in 2011, starring acting powerhouses Pierce Brosnan and Anika Noni Rose of all people. Yeah, I’m not sure how they got these people to sign up for the project, but it must have involved a shit ton of money, in cash, and a deniability clause that they ever made this piece of crap.
The tale starts with Michael Noonan, an author who just lost his wife Jo in a tragic accident…though she might have survived if Noonan hadn’t grabbed her bloodied body and moved it, potentially causing fatal damage. Just saying, Stephen King, the people in your books are all idiots and assholes. Additionally, he self referenced himself with a Misery joke in the first ten minutes of this thing…and that’s how I knew this was going to suck.
So Mike, after a long period of despair, decides he’s going to go to Dark Score Lake, and stay in the house his wife renovated. While there, he will attempt to write a new novel AND find out whose his dead wife’s baby-daddy. Yes, apparently she was pregnant. WHO KNEW? More like, who cares cause it’s not the audience.
While he’s there, he gets the typical weird-visions of making out with dead women, which is something SO ORIGINAL to a Stephen King adaptation. Also, apparently he can now talk to his dead wife, while he’s being terrorized by Sara Tidwell, a popular singer from the 1930s who disappeared in the town and is pissed as all Hell.
And because we OBVIOUSLY don’t have enough going on, Mike saves a little girl named Kyra from being little-girl road kill as her mother runs out, begging Mike not to think of her as a bad mother. The mother’s name is Mattie and she’s currently locked in a custody battle with Kyra’s grandfather Mr. Devore, because Mattie shot her husband after he tried to drown Kyra. You understand? No? Don’t worry, no one does.
I’m going to stop the plot right here and talk about how stupid this is. First of all, the little girl was out in the middle of a road, in the daytime, completely alone, heading to go swim, and we SHOULDN’T think Mattie’s a bad mother? Kyra was coming in a direction TOWARDS where her mother seems to have been. What was Mattie doing that was so important she had to leave her child alone? And also, how do we know this isn’t a typical thing? Maybe Mattie loses track of Kyra ALL THE TIME, which then we should think she’s a terrible mother. And lastly, what kind of a mother doesn’t teach her freaking kid to walk on the side of the road, or on a goddamn sidewalk? What made her think walking right in the MIDDLE was a smart idea??? She’s obviously not teaching her shit!
Mr. Devore dies, and Mike finds out that not only did Kyra’s father try to drown Kyra, but also that a bunch of fathers have drowned their kids. It’s all because a group of five randomly violent assholes decided that raping Sara Tidwell and drowning her daughter right in front of her before killing her too was an excellent idea. So five families, including the Devores and the Noonans, are doomed to drown all their daughters too cause of a curse.
So Mattie gets shot as Mike makes out with her, the townsfolk try to kill Kyra, Mike finds Sara and her daughter’s bodies and drenches them in lye, stops Mr. Devore’s crazy assistant from killing Kyra, and ultimately becomes her father…and if you think I’m speeding through it, the movie did the exact same thing.
There are A LOT of problems with this…thing they called a mini-series. First off, the lack of credibility is huge. And I’m not talking about the supernatural stuff either, I mean there is just some shit that makes no sense. For one, why does Mattie want to sleep with Mike so bad? He’s like at least 15 years her senior, they barely know each other and she even uses his dead wife to convince him to kiss her. Second, why didn’t they just kidnap Kyra and drown her then? I mean, they show how often she’s left unsupervised, so just grab her and do it, rather than going through a whole custody battle. And third, Mr. Devore’s assistant is pretty old and frail looking…but manages to punch Brosnan off a cliff, and hurl rocks at him, and even almost kill Brosnan and Kyra with her own hands…HOW??? What is she, the world’s strongest grandma???
The dialogue is…atrocious. I couldn’t believe how wooden and awful this dialogue was, and how poorly thought-out it ended up being. Exposition is thrown about willy-nilly, characters spout completely random or totally inappropriate crap, and they all come off either mentally insane, or the world’s biggest assholes. One example of this is right at the freaking beginning, when Noonan’s agent confronts him about doing more readings and book signings moments after his wife’s funeral is over, not 50 feet from her grave. Also, everyone keeps telling Mike that “This is what Jo would have wanted” even to the point where Mattie uses it to get in Mike’s pants. NO ONE TALKS LIKE THAT, MOVIE. NO ONE.
The ONLY worthwhile performance in this is Anika Noni Rose as Sara Tidwell, in part because she sings so beautifully, and second because she’s trying to actually act. It’s amazing how her talent shines through all the weird, twisted performances. No one else, especially Brosnan, gave two shits about the production, delivering their lines in weird ways, or just muttering them incoherently, sometime making weird faces at the camera.
The pacing is really, really weird. It takes forever in the first episode to get anywhere important, and then suddenly in the last 20 minutes of part 2, everything happens all at once. It’s like they wanted to build up the story to some big climax, realized there was no time to shoot it all, or fit it into the format the networks wanted it so they just cut out shit for time’s sake. Either that, or the screenwriter is terrible, which considering he wrote the sequel to White Noise, is not really a stretch.
Worst of all, it’s filled to the brim with jump scares, the least scary tactic of them all. It would have been acceptable to have a small handful of them, but when every single scare is the same thing? It loses its edge REAL fast. I don’t care if there’s a rotting corpse staring at the screen, you have conditioned me to just expect it now. So, you don’t get entertained or scared, just incredulous over the incredibly stupid shit you convinced yourself to watch for three hours.
If there was something I HAD to say about this miniseries that was good, it was the cinematography. The miniseries takes advantage of some lovely outdoor scenery, it’s shot well, and it really gives a very down-home Americana-creepy vibe. It’s the only really good thing I can say…and I’m generally pretty forgiving.
Seriously, fuck this mini-series, I’m going to go play some more Silent Hill.
Come on back next week when I review the much beloved Repo!: The Genetic Opera