Even allowing for the fact that Stephen King is a one-man cottage industry, this farmed-out, made-for-television prequel to mini-series ROSE RED is particularly cynical fare. At the turn of the twentieth century, Ellen (Lisa Brenner) marries the dashing John Rimbauer (Steven Brand), but regrets her naivte after he turns their African honeymoon into a series of exotic orgies. Once back home, the oversexed John tries to placate his new bride by making a gift of her dream house, "Rose Red." The couple establishes a tenuous truce, and John dallies with servant girls while Ellen studies blueprints. Ellen's maid, Sukerna (Tsidii Leloka), a sort of souvenir from their trip to the Dark Continent firmly believes that Rose Red is a possessed house whose innate evil mirrors John's moral turpitude. As the years pass, some of John's lady friends simply vanish inside the edifice; John himself is being driven slowly mad by syphilis, and the Rimbauer's daughter, April (Courtney Burness), has a withered arm to show for her father's lifelong debauchery. Ellen consults a psychic, Madame Lu (Tsai Chin), who reveals that Rose Red’s problem isn't conventional haunting by restless spirits; the house has become a living entity. Ever watchful and surprisingly jealous, it takes April to guarantee that Ellen will never leave. This Gothic bodice-ripper is 100% scare-free and radiates a palpable disgust for libertines that isn't entirely justified by their transgressions. Colorless performances and Craig R. Baxley's lackluster direction further undermine this penny dreadful, which is more ghastly than ghostly.
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