The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer
2003-05-13, 8:40 p.m.
Note to any readers I may have: This entry is entirely about Rose Red and The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer. If you haven't seen or read anything about these, you won't have a clue what I'm ranting about. And there's spoilers aplenty. Sorry 'bout that.
So last night I totally wasted my time watching my taped Survivor finale, followed by a large amount of phone time with Denise, and finally, watching The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer. Which Hill and I had really been looking forward to, but... it sucked.
Really, it was like, did ANYONE involved with this movie say, read the book at all? I assume they at least watched Rose Red, but the prequel here read like someone had just given the screenplay writer(s?) a verbal Cliffs Notes. It was a real disappointment, as the book was very well done and fascinatingly interesting. They changed the plot, as movies made from books are often wont to do, but their changes, well, argh.
* Casting: They only managed to get one of the original cast members (Sukheena) from RR. Okay, so most of the "past" characters didn't really need to use the original actors (John, Adam for example) because they were hardly in the movie, the three female roles of Ellen, Sukheena, and April were important. While I'm delighted that they got Sukheena back at least, and presumably the actress who played April must have aged out of the role by now, it really hurt the continuity of the movies to NOT have the same actress who played Ellen before in the role. Maybe they couldn't get her back, I don't know, but she didn't work as well. It was also quite distracting that the actress they recast looks, well, suspiciously a lot like Nancy Travis (Joyce in RR). It's almost like it's a fantasy Joyce came up with, recasting herself in the role or something. This is distracting.
Adam is supposed to be at least a few years older than April in the book/RR. In this movie, they indicate more that they have a five-year difference in age. Either way, Adam and April SHOULD NOT BE THE EXACT SAME SIZE.
You can also tell that they were trying to be cheap when making this movie. They made Ellen suddenly be bosom friends with Posey's much older wife (right, sure, most 1900's women would have been bosom buddies with their suitor's business partner's wife), combined the two medium roles into one, etc.
* Rewriting certain people to be nicer. One of the interesting character insights you get at the start of the book is that John chose to propose to Ellen almost immediately after a murder. This fazes him not a bit. In this movie, they had him propose before. Really, why did they change it? It's not like it would have been a big expensive thing to film here. In the book, it's an ominous, chilling thing, in the movie? Eh. Likewise, Posey suddenly decides to hide his suicide in the house from the kids instead of deliberately hanging himself while they watched. And the formerly chilling Chinese medium is fairly cheerful! Stuff like this takes away a lot of the creepiness of the movie- in the book you presume the house influenced them to do things like this. In the movie, eh, nothing.
* Leaving out stuff. Watching the movie, it doesn't make much sense with regards to the deal Ellen made with John to get Sukheena back from the cops. They vaguely indicate she's supposed to give him nookie again, but aren't too clear unless you're deliberately looking for it with regards to Sukheena. They seem to think that showing Ellen and John having threesomes in Africa (nope, not in the book) early on will make this clear. For those who didn't figure it out about Ellen and Sukheena, as Melissa Etheridge would put it, yes, they are. John knew about it, and wanted a piece of the action. And Ellen was no welsher. Yet in this movie, of course they can't indicate lesbianism. That part doesn't surprise me, but I think it's just going into bad cliche to have her back out and then have John storm around saying he's going to kick Sukheena out because he got no nookie. They were trying to be more dramatic, but it just came out lame.
* It's really not scary. Not that I normally like scariness, but this movie doesn't even hit creepy. In RR and the book, Rose Red has a personality of its own, there's big atmosphere, there's a presence. In this movie? Rose Red's just an ordinary house where people tend to go poof for no good reason occasionally.