The movie shows up a near-empty one. A five minutes Stephen King’s Bag of Bones sneek peek is not very promising. Details!!!!!
Stephen King’s ‘Bag of Bones’ comes up empty
As fond of Stephen King as TV may be, it hasn’t been particularly good to him.
With a few notable exceptions —It and The Stand chief among them — King’s various TV projects have ranged from bad (Rose Red, Kingdom Hospital) to laughably bad (The Langoliers). That’s not so much a mixed bag as a near-empty one.
The knock on even the best of King’s miniseries has always been that they don’t end nearly as well as they begin. The unseen early horrors may be scary, but the horror vanishes when what was only imagined becomes manifest — invariably leaving viewers disappointed (or, worse, amused) by both the monster and the ambiguous morals of stories that are awash in spirits but devoid of spirituality.
On that score, at least, Bag of Bones can claim consistency: It starts slow, moves slowly and goes nowhere. Which is probably what you should expect from a story about a writer who can’t write plagued by two ghosts who won’t shut up.
The writer, sad to say, is Pierce Brosnan, a fine actor and genuine star wasted in a silly role that too often requires him and everyone else to behave in ways no normal human would. (Multiple murders and the police just let the only witness/suspect wander away?) As blocked best-selling author Mike Noonan, he spends the first hour of the two-part miniseries grieving for his late wife, Jo (Annabeth Gish), and the rest of it interpreting the various messages she leaves for him at their haunted retreat at cursed Dark Score Lake.
Alas for poor Mike, he and Jo share the cabin with the angry spirit of a ’30s blues singer (Anika Noni Rose), who speaks through dreams and records while Jo is forced to rely on bells and refrigerator magnets. If Mike had just bought Jo enough magnets to let her spell her messages out more clearly, the movie could have been two hours shorter and we’d all go home happier.
You wonder why Mike doesn’t just leave, or at least show a bit more surprise when, say, the craziest of the town’s many crazy residents (Patty Duke’s William Schallert, at 89 having a grand time in an evil change-of-pace) has his Mrs. Danvers henchwoman try to stone him to death. But then you may also wonder why Mike never notices that basements and bathtubs spell trouble. Hasn’t he ever read a horror story before?
Mike may be slow on the uptake, but it won’t take you long to realize you are once again deep within one of King’s favorite tropes: an evil secret act that is resounding and repeating down through the generations. The problem here, aside from the lack of sympathy you feel for all involved and the ludicrously abrupt happy ending, is that the resolution is so silly and so poorly visualized, it makes those time-eating dust bunnies from The Langoliers look sensible by comparison.
Bag it. (Robert Bianco – USA TODAY)