Old vs. New: The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer vs. Rose Red

Now, it isn’t exactly a mystery that it is pretty hard to make a sequel that is just as good, if not better than the original.  I’ve made a list of what I think are the sequels that I think are better than the original.  But you know what really gets under my skin – When a sequel to a movie that I really liked not only sucks, but totally forgets everything about the source material, and what made it so interesting.  That really annoys me, really quick.

Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.  I watched a film yesterday called “The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer.”  It is a prequel to the events of the Stephen King film – “Rose Red.”  Now, I know that King has a lot of horrible movies under his belt, and very few successes.  But this film was not only scary, but is also one of what I am going to be putting on a list – Top 10 most Underrated Film.  I love that movie, because it was genuinely scary, not high budget, and wasn’t the usual over-the-top cliches that King is famous for having.  He actually put a lot of heart into this, and so did the people involved in the film’s creation.

It occured to me today – why did they even need to make a prequel film?  All the significant back-story was covered over the course of the film.  It adds to the atmosphere of it, because it goes into the creepy details, showing us the darkness of this house that the people are trapped in.  It was fun to work with.  The moment that that other movie (the prequel) started, I felt something inside of me go a little bit numb.  For one thing, for as small-budget as Rose Red was, they couldn’t afford to get the same people from the original film for the roles?  A lot of this is going to sound like nit-picking, but seriously.  This is my own version of Old vs. New.  The major flaws, I am going to point out to you in a row.  My list of problems are as follows.

  1. They didn’t get a SINGLE character right!
    Yes, nit-picking, but let me say why this is important – because in the original film, these characters were played to add to the creepiness of the house.  Take the main character – Ellen Rimbauer.  In the first movie, she was immediately and creepily drawn to the house.  In the prequel, she seems to almost not like the place.  This takes away from the creepiness of the house, because we are supposed to be disturbed by the hold it has on Ellen.  And of course, there was Ellen’s housekeeper - Sukeena.  In the original, she was a character who never bought into the whole supernatural aspect of it all.  In this, she is some kind of mystic.  It’s a small change, but it happened for no reason.They also really played up the role of the husband, which was totally and completely pointless.  In the original, he was kind of an extra, because it was about Ellen and her creepy attachment that eventually fueled the supernatural elements of the house.  Also, they shoe-horned in characters who weren’t even in the original, which made no sense.  This leads us to problem 2 -
  2. There is NO atmosphere in the prequel at all!
    While the first movie wasn’t perfect, it did really well with its premise.  The house was just as uninviting and creepy as the characters in it.  This movie didn’t even try.  The weird monsters which I put on my Top Ten Movie Monsters list were gone.  Also, the back-story of the people that had some creepy elements were totally robbed of their darkness.Take the scene where Douglas Posey kills himself.  In the original film, the two Rimbauer children watch him die.  It’s disturbing, unnerving, and makes you feel kind of weird about it.  But in the prequel, he has them leave.  Why?  We clearly could see that that isn’t what happened, so why did they feel the need to put that in there?  Why did they change the story to fit some weird-ass narrative?  Is it because the idea that the kids seeing a man kill himself was too disturbing?  Well, to that I say – that’s the fucking point!  The point was that it was a creepy scene.  Children seeing a man kill himself is supposed to be disturbing.  Oh, and that brings us to the next point -
  3. They didn’t get a single correlation between the original right.
    Since this is a prequel, supposed to be filling us in on the stuff we didn’t already know, it makes sense that they would recover what we did know, right?  Well, that would be fine, if they could have gotten at least one thing right.  Every single scene that was from the original was ruined by this movie.  Take the scene where John Rimbauer, the husband, is killed.  In the original film, it was during the day.  He was murdered by his wife and her servant, who it was implied had a much deeper attachment.  They threw him out a window, and he fell to his death.  The two women hold hands after it’s done.  The scene is creepy, disturbing, and shows more of Ellen’s madness.In the prequel, however, this was totally ruined.  For one thing, they did the ultimate cliche of having it on a dark and stormy night (of course).  And it wasn’t the women who killed him, it was un-scary ghosts.  It added nothing to the story, because this film had no atmosphere.  This was just something that…happened.  Which brings us to our final point -
  4. Nothing happened!
    Even if you don’t like Rose Red (because you’re lame), you can appreciate that that movie was telling a coherent story.  Things were taking place, and they had value.  This movie, on the other hand, had events unfold, but not one of them had any real significance.  They were all just things happening, and you were left bored because it never seemed to be going anywhere.Tied into that is the fact that there was no villain in this story.  In the original, it wasn’t really the spirits who were the bad guys.  It was the house.  The house was disturbed and creating the monsters that were doing so much harm.  The house was making women disappear, and killing men.  It was kind of disturbing how this place had a love for women, and a hatred for men, all the while being themed after a rose.  In this movie, it is implied that the house is evil, but the characters never seem to particularly care.  It is just…stuff happening.

If you are going to make a prequel, you have a lot of obligation to stick to the source material.  The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer failed this, miserably.  Other movies have also done it.  Like the Star Wars prequels, which clearly ignored everything about the canon before them.  If you are going to do a sequel or prequel, and you decide not to have respect for the source material, you are dooming yourself to be viewed as a complete idiot, by the viewers who will feel dejected and insulted.

Until next time, a quote,

“Houses… are alive. This is something we know. News from our nerve endings. If we’re quiet, if we listen, we can hear houses breath. Sometimes, in the depth of the night, you can even hear them groan.”  -Ellen Rimbauer, Rose Red

Peace out,

Maverick

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