Friday, April 13, 2012

Bag of Bones (2011)


Writer Mike Noonan is still reeling from the unexpected death of his beloved wife, Jo.  In his attempts to overcome the writer's block (and depression) that follows in the wake of this tragedy, he relocates to their summer cottage on Dark Score Lake. While there, he encounters a charming young woman, an adorable little girl, a creepy old man, and a host of horrific dreams and visions.  Not surprisingly, bad things happen.

This adaptation of one of King's better novels is utterly abysmal.

Admittedly, the novel is long and complex, and a completely faithful adaption would likely be both interminable and confusing.  And as with many first-person narratives, much of the plot development occurs in the narrator's head, making television adaptation difficult.  Still, there had to be a better way to handle it than this . . . mess.

The pacing was way off, as some sequences dragged on and other plot points seemed rushed.  We see Mike Noonan mope about for scene after scene, but his interactions with the young and beautiful Mattie are so truncated as to render their relationship barely more than an acquaintanceship. Which in turn cheapens the emotional impact of any danger she faces.  Similarly, the sinister Max Devore barely has time to make his presence known, let alone to instill in the viewers the sick terror inspired by the book.

The scenery was lovely (as it should be, given the Nova Scotia location), but the soundtrack was awful.  In a book that prominently features a 1930's blues singer and takes place in a throwback town, you'd think the soundtrack would be appropriately old fashioned.  For some reason, the filmmakers opted for whiny modern schlock which jarred me out of the mood of the film and was somehow utterly forgettable at the same time.

Then, too, the acting is most definitely sub-par.  I have enjoyed me some Pierce Brosnan on occasion, but he seems to be phoning it in here.  And since the bulk of the scenes feature him exclusively, this is a serious problem.  The acting awards for this series, such as they are, would have to go to Annabeth Gish as the dead wife (who thus exists mostly in photographs), and Deborah Allen as the cleaning lady.  The filmmakers also passed up a great opportunity to implement the New England accents King's characters sport in the novel (which King himself voices admirably in the audiobook version).

Honestly, this miniseries was a complete and total waste of time.  The plot was stripped of any subtlety or nuance whatsoever (apparently the viewers are too stupid to figure out anything not spelled out for them in long and awkward speeches made by the characters at inappropriate times).  I heard somewhere that, even though the film was shot fairly close to King's own home (just across the border in Maine), he never made an appearance on set.  Maybe he got wind of what a stinker it was turning out to be.  Which raises an interesting question:  Wouldn't an author as well-established as King be able to retain creative control over adaptations of his works?  Apparently not.

No comments: