Nothing says holiday spirit like a four-hour Stephen King horror-fest on A&E!
King’s latest TV event, based on his novel “Bag of Bones,” began Sunday night. A&E is calling it a mini-series, though it’s only a two-night story, with four hours of programming split over Sunday and Monday nights.
Keeping in mind the always difficult task of transferring over 500 pages of prose to the screen, “Bag of Bones” had more difficulties in pacing than some of King’s previous made-for-TV adaptations. The most obvious problem, as we meandered through the first two hours of the series, was one of pacing.
Pierce Brosnan plays Michael Noonan, a novelist plagued by writers’ block after his wife’s sudden death and some strange circumstances surrounding it. In a novel, you can pull off scene after scene of a writer staring at a blank page, since there’s the benefit of an inner monologue. In the mini-series, the wordless scenes dragged on.
The first half of the story also relied heavily on shocking dream sequences — we think Noonan is awake, but when he peeks under his bed, he sees an image of his dead wife being dragged out — and suddenly, he wakes up. He handles the nightmares well, as is to be expected, since he’s an adult who has recently been traumatized and nightmares are par for the course.
What’s more bizarre is that when the supernatural begins creeping into his wakeful life — as he begins to communicate with his dead wife, as messages are left for him in the magnetic letters on the fridge at their lake house — he also seems to take it in stride.
In exploring his wife’s art studio, Noonan begins to experience ghostly visits from Sara Tidwell, an old-time blues singer who infiltrated his wife’s art. This part of the story still feels disjointed and incongruous with the story of the lake town, Dark Score, but we’re expecting it to come together in the second part.
The most intriguing storyline involves Mattie Devore, a young widow with a daughter — Kyra — who Noonan meets when he gets to Dark Score. As the story goes, Mattie’s husband tried to
drown Kyra, and Mattie was forced to kill him to save her daughter. Now, Mattie’s father-in-law is seeking custody of the child. Noonan is involved in the case as a witness to an incident in which Mattie may have been neglectful of her daughter.
The moments designed to make the viewer jump were dulled slightly by the fact that we’d already seen them in the opening credits, which did a bit of a disservice to the story. The final moment of the first half, in which Noonan finds his bathtub filled with dirty water and is grabbed by a decomposing ghost-girl when he tries to pull the plug, still startled us, and was a strong send-off into night two.
We’ll certainly be tuning in for the second part — though, we admit, we may have our finger on the fast-forward button if Noonan spends any more time staring at a blank Word document on his computer screen.
Drop us a line in the comments below and let us know what you thought of the adaptation!