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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. It's as if they were having bad dreams. A good house cradles and comforts, a bad one fills us with instinctive unease. Bad houses hate our warmth and our human-ness. That blind hate of our humanity is what we mean when we use the word "haunted".
― Ellen Rimbauer

Rose Red (also known as Stephen King's Rose Red) is the chilling tale of Dr. Joyce Reardon, an obsessed psychology professor who commissions a team of physchics and a gifted 15-year-old autistic girl, Annie Wheaton, to literally wake up a supposedly dormant haunted mansion - Rose Red. Their efforts unleash myriad spirits and undercover horrifying secrets of the generations who have lived and died there.

The 2002 miniseries was written by Stephen King and directed by Craig Baxley.


Dr. Joyce Reardon, an unorthodox university psychology professor, leads a team of psychics to the massive and antiquated Seattle mansion known as Rose Red in an attempt to record data which would constitute scientific proof of paranormal phenomena. The mansion is publicly thought to be haunted, as at least 23 people have either disappeared or died there and the interior of the house appears to change or increase in size. Reardon's team unleashes the spirit of the house, leading to several deaths and the revelation of the mansion's secrets.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Warning: this text contains details about the plot/ending of the film.

The miniseries begins in the year 2001. Steven Rimbauer, the great grandson of John and Ellen Rimbauer, has inherited Rose Red. He has been offered a substantial sum of money to have the house torn down and the site developed into condominiums. But he is intrigued by the paranormal history of the house, and has agreed to allow one more investigation of the mansion.

The miniseries opens with a prologue set in 1991. The young autistic girl Annie Wheaton is drawing a picture of a house as her parents and older sister, Rachel, argue outside her room. As she draws lines down over the house in her picture, rocks fall through the roof of an identical house belonging to an elderly couple down the street whose dog had bitten Annie, severely damaging the building.

The setting now switches to 2001. Dr. Joyce Reardon is a professor at the fictional Beaumont University who teaches classes on psychic phenomena. Kevin Bollinger, a reporter for the campus newspaper, sceptically questions her about a trip she will be taking to Rose Red, an ostensibly haunted and abandoned mansion in nearby Seattle. Professor Carl Miller, Joyce's departmental chair who questions the validity of Joyce's research, orders Bollinger to follow Reardon and spy on a meeting with the group of psychics she is taking to Rose Red. The group includes Victor "Vic" Kandinsky, an elderly precognate with heart disease; Pam Asbury, a young psychometric; Cathy Kramer, a middle-aged automatic writer; Nick Hardaway, a telepath with remote viewing capabilities; and Emery Waterman, a young post-cognate. The group meets with Steven Rimbauer, the last descendent of Ellen and John Rimbauer, in an auditorium at the college. Bollinger takes a photo of the group joining hands in a circle, and the photo and an article ridiculing Reardon are published in the campus newspaper. Dr. Miller takes Bollinger to Rose Red and drops him off, instructing him to obtain additional embarrassing photos once the group of psychics arrives. Kevin is greeted by Sukeena at the front door, who tells him that he is expected. Not realizing she is a ghost, Bollinger enters the mansion. He becomes trapped in the solarium, where he is pulled off-screen by an unseen force.

The back-stories of psychics Emery Waterman and Annie Wheaton are introduced. Emery Waterman is a rude, sarcastic, and obnoxious young man under the control of his domineering mother, Kay Waterman. The audience learns that Rachel Wheaton now cares for Annie Wheaton, who rarely speaks and who refers to Rachel as "Sister." The audience also learns that Dr. Reardon is having a sexual affair with Steven Rimbauer, although the film remains unclear whether she loves him or is merely using him to gain access to Rose Red.

The Group after arriving in Rose Red

Joyce and the group of psychics (now joined by Rachel "Sister" Wheaton and a teenaged Annie Wheaton arrive at Rose Red. The team tours the mansion. Joyce and Steven point out that the home contains many optical illusions as well as an upside-down room and a library with a mirrored floor. The team finds Bollinger's cell phone, and Steven calls Miller to confront him over his attempt to discredit the group. That night, Emery sees the ghost of an actress that disappeared from the house decades earlier; Pam dreams of the decomposing body of Kevin Bollinger; the Wheaton sisters are visited by a ghost under the bed and in the closet; and Cathy sees something moving under the carpet and her blankets. Later in the night, Pam is lured outside into the garden.

The next morning, Dr. Miller receives a mysterious voicemail message from Steven saying that Bollinger slit his wrists and wrote Miller's name in his blood before expiring. A message that cleally was not sent by Steven but a trap set up by Rose Red and its inhabitants. Alarmed, Miller drives to the mansion. Kay Waterman, too, has driven to the mansion after being unable to reach her son via cell phone. The two arrive simultaneously, and their cars collide in the driveway when Mrs. Waterman swerves to avoid what she believes to be a figure running across the road. Terrified, Mrs. Waterman begins to run through the forest on the grounds of the mansion while calling for her son. Miller, wanting to get her insurance information, pursues her. Inside Rose Red, Emery hears his mother's cries but dismisses them as an auditory illusion created by the haunted house.

On the other side of the house, Pam leads Vic into the garden toward a pond with a statue of Ellen in it. She suddenly disappears. When Vic looks down into the pond, he sees what he believes to be Pam's dead body. He attempts to pull her out of the water, but the body vanishes and he is left clutching only her nightgown. He panics and runs back toward the house. Looking back, he sees the statue come to life and has a heart attack. Vic tries to draw the attention of Emery (who is inside the house), but Emery again believes this to be an apparition and refuses to open the window. Nick arrives and tries to open the window, but it will not open and the glass cannot be broken. Vic collapses and dies in full view of Emery and Nick. Out in the woods, Mrs. Waterman is stopped and knocked unconscious by the ghost of Kevin Bollinger.

Annie with the group in the library

Annie Wheaton has discovered a dollhouse that is a replica in miniature of Rose Red. While standing on a chair in an attempt to reach the dollhouse, she falls and is knocked unconscious. Rachel Wheaton and Steven Rimbauer see her fall and attempt to render first aid. Meanwhile, on the other side of the house, Rose Red's windows and doors mysteriously open again. Emery Waterman, realizing that his mother's screams were not an illusion, rushes outside to look for his mother. He runs into Dr. Miller, who warns him to stay away and then flees. Emery chases Miller but cannot catch him, so he returns to Rose Red. Miller, continuing to frantically run around the grounds of the house, is found and attacked by the ghost of Kevin Bollinger.

Emery attempts to convince the others that they should all leave. They refuse, and Emery tries to depart on his own. As he does so, he runs into the ghosts of Pam Asbury and Deanna Petrie, the movie star who vanished in the house in the 1940s. Emery has the power to make apparitions disappear by repeating the phrase "not there," and avoids the deadly fate of his mother and Dr. Miller. As Emery is about to leave Rose Red, Annie Wheaton wakes and via psychokinesis causes the doors of Rose Red to slam shut. Emery's hand is caught in the door, and some of his fingers are severed. While the others assist Emery, Joyce Reardon asks Annie to continue to keep the doors and windows sealed, promising to give her the dollhouse if she does so. Steven, however, soon discovers that he is able to communicate with Annie telepathically, and she begins to form a friendship with him.

Later, Steven relives some repressed memories of a visit to the house with his drunken mother during which a ghostly Ellen Rimbauer appeared to him and called on Steven to aid her in continuing Rose Red's unending construction. Emery, meanwhile, suspects that Annie, not some "spirit of Rose Red", is keeping the house sealed. Nick confirms Emery's suspicions, and then informs the group that Kevin Bollinger appeared to have hanged himself in the library. The group begins to speculate that Rose Red has never been in a dormant state, and that the mansion's supernatural powers are linked to Annie and Steven (whose psychic abilities become apparent only when he is in the house because of his familial connection to the property). Nick correctly guesses that Joyce brought the psychics to the house in an attempt to reawaken Rose Red rather than simply investigate it.

The wounded Emery suggests that Annie be killed in order to allow everyone to escape, alarming the rest of the group. While in the kitchen, Cathy Kramer is attacked by Mrs. Waterman and is rescued by Nick. The two decide to tie up the deranged woman and decide to leave her in the kitchen. They agree not to inform Emery so that the unstable young man does not become more unbalanced. A ghostly Sukeena appears and drags Mrs. Waterman off into the dark wine cellar. As Nick and Cathy head back toward the main hall, the house changes around them and they become lost. A mysterious shape under the carpet chases them, and they flee. The shape begins to catch up to them, and Nick shoves Cathy into a room and slams the door behind her, turning around just in time to see a skeletal monster rushing up to him. With silence in the hallway, Cathy opens the door again but finds no sign of Nick or the entity in the empty hallway. As the house continues to change around her, Cathy ends up in the attic. Suddenly overcome by the urge to automatically write, she witnesses the murder of John Rimbauer by Ellen and Sukeena. Steven and Rachel, meanwhile, decide to look for Nick and Cathy. They find Cathy in the attic, where she is about to be attacked by a corpse-like creature. Their presence seemingly prevents the house from acting, and the corpse drops lifeless to the floor. The corpse's withered arm lets them deduce that the carcass is that of Steven's missing great-aunt (and Ellen's daughter), April Rimbauer.

The group reunites in the main hall. Emery attempts to attack Annie with a fireplace poker. Using psychokinesis, Annie animates a suit of armor and attempts to kill Emery with a halberd. Neither attack succeeds, and Joyce calms both individuals. In an attempt to uncover the secret of Rose Red, Steve creates a telepathic link between Cathy and Annie, and Cathy begins to engage in automatic writing. Annie begins to draw pictures of boulders striking the house, smashed doors, and broken glass, and soon doors and windows all over the house are opening and closing violently and glass in the windows shatters. Rocks begin to fall, destroying Mrs. Waterman's car and causing severe damage to Rose Red. Cathy automatically writes "help us" and "open the doors," prompting Annie to unseal the house. Steven, Emery, Cathy, Rachel, and Annie make their escape from Rose Red, but Joyce, now clearly insane, refuses to leave. The group is attacked by the spectre of Ellen Rimbauer, but Annie prevents Ellen from coming after them. Mrs. Waterman's ghost leaps from a mirror and attempts to draw Emery into the spirit realm, but Emery, with the assistance of Steven and Cathy, resists his mother for the first time in his life, and Mrs. Waterman vanishes again. The survivors flee to their cars as boulders rain down on Rose Red. Back in the house, Joyce suddenly realizes too late that she does want to leave, but is surrounded by the ghosts of Rose Red: Nick, Pam, Vic, Ms. Waterman, Miller, Bollinger, Sukeena, Ellen Rimbauer, and Deanna Petrie. She screams in terror as the film fades to black.

Six months later, the survivors visit Rose Red, just before the mansion is due to be demolished and replaced by condominiums. It remains unsaid whether or not the evil that inhabits the house will leave with its destruction or go on to curse the condos. They pay their last respects to the dead by laying red roses on the path leading up to the house. As they drive away, the theme from the movie "A Summer Place" can be heard, and the ghosts of Ellen Rimbauer, Sukeena, and Joyce Reardon watch the survivors depart from the tower window.

History of Rose Red[edit | edit source]

From the information given in Ellen Rimbauer's Diary and the TV Miniseries:

I had built the tower for my sweet, missing April. I cling to the hopes that one day she will walk right out of these walls and come back to me...
― From the Diary of Ellen Rimbauer. February 29, 1923
  • Turn of the Century--Pre- 1906- Ancient Native American burial ground for the dead has been chosen as the site of where Rose Red will stand which will curse the property.
  • 1906-Construction begins on Rose Red as a gift from Omnicron Oil founder John P Rimbauer, to his fiancee, Ellen Gilchrist, on Spring Street and 7th avenue, Seattle, Washington, on 40 acres of land.
  • 1906-1909- Construction workers die on site: Teamster Harry Corbin shoots Foreman, One worker decapitated by falling glass, one choked on a piece of apple, one falls off scaffolding and breaks his neck.
  • May 11th 1907- Willaimson, is shot by Corbin. (Other sources list his name as O'Riley). Ellen is proposed to by John. Ellen names the house Rose Red. The spirits of the Native American burial site have by now possessed the house and live within its walls; watching, waiting and feeding of the negative energy of the people who reside there.
  • November 12th 1907- John and Ellen Gilchrist marry.
  • 1907-1909- Ellen and John honeymoon across the Pacific Atolls, Africa, then Europe. They acquire many of the furnishings in the home during the trip. Ellen contracts an STD from John and is nursed to health by a exotic tribeswoman, Sukeena, who accompanies them back to America to be Ellen's companion and to also work at Rose Red.
  • January 15th 1909- John and Ellen arrive at Rose Red.
  • March 13th 1909- Rose Red claims its first victim to feed of their life force: Connie Fauxmanter vanishes while admiring a globe in the west wing library. She is never seen again despite numerous searches.

Later it is revealed that the majority of all the woman that vanished while in Rose Red where either secretly having an affair with Ellen's cheating husband or became a threat to the house that had grown rather fond of Ellen.

  • Autumn 1909- Adam Rimbauer is born.
  • September 23rd 1909- Laura the housemaid vanishes and is never seen again.
  • April 1911- April Rimbauer is born with a withered left arm, which Ellen blames on her African illness.
  • May 21st 1911- Delora vanishes and is never seen again.
  • 1911 or 1912- Another housemaid, Gale, vanishes and is never seen again.
  • August 1914- Medium "Madame Stravinsky" (aka Cora Frye) tells Ellen that she would never die if she continued to build Rose Red.
  • August 1914, one week after the seance- The Perspective Hallway is designed by Sukeena and built, becoming Ellen's first major addition. John fires his business partner, Douglas Posey in November.
  • 1915- As revenge, Douglas Posey hangs himself in a suicide in front of the Rimbauer children in the downstairs palor. Soon after April stops speaking and Adam is sent off to boarding school.
  • February 17th 1917- Rose Red grows jealous of Ellen's relationships with her young daughter April. The child vanishes in the kitchen and is never seen again. Over 50 search men raid the house without finding any clues. Sukeena is used as the scapegoat and is taken to the local police station for questioning in regards to her "murder".
  • February 19th 1917- Sukeena returns home days later. After a grueling questioning the charges against her are dismissed in exchange for a black eye, a broken wrist, a broken nose and three missing teeth.
  • March 9th 1918- John's drinking buddy, George Meader dies from an allergic reaction to a bee sting in the Solarium.

Noted Phenomena: April's voice is heard singing or humming in the halls of the house. Ellen concludes April is still alive in the house, but is kept in a state of limbo, where ordinary people can't find or see. Rooms begin to rapidly change their size and appearance.

  • April 1st 1921- On April's birthday, the Tower Folly is added on to the house with a large stain glass window representing a red rose. Ellen insists that the voices of Rose Red told her to build it for April, promising a brief reunion with her daughter who will live there in limbo.
  • October 29th 1921-At midnight Ellen goes to the Tower and sees the stain glass window alter itself from a red rose to a living picture of her daughter April's face. April cries out "mamma", before the stain glass morphs back into its original image.
  • 1923- John is pushed from the tower by Ellen and Sukeena who make it look like a suicide.
  • February 19th 1928- Rose grows jealous of Ellen's relationship with Sukeena. The woman vanishes in the Solarium and is never seen again.

Noted Phenomena: Ellen orders the plants in the Solarium to be ripped out only to later find them growing back more lush and beautiful than ever. Insist she hears the house laughing at her and mocking her.

  • January 15th 1946- Rose Red feels threatened by the glamorous movie star and good friend of Ellen, Deanna Petrie. The woman vanishes in the Billiards Room during one of Ellen's yearly January 15th parties. The only thing found of Deanna is one of her earrings. After her disappearance the January 15th parties are canceled for good.
  • January 15th 1950- Rose Red finally claims its most desired victim. Ellen herself vanishes while in the Perspective Hallway. Last seen by maid, who wished her good evening.
  • 1950s-1960s- Servants continue to live in Rose Red but eventually leave one by one out of fear. Adam Rimbauer inherits the house and resides their with his wife. He soon notices rooms change and grow on their own. He also sees the ghost of his long lost little sister April frequently. After his death his widowed wife suffers financially when the Omnicron Oil Company is sold and opens house to tours conducted by the "Seattle Historical Society" for income.
  • 1960s- Team of scientists investigate Rose red. Conclude that hauntings and screams are caused by water running through old drainage pipes. Head investigator, Max Bernstein goes missing, never to be seen again.

Noted phenomena; a moving statue of Ellen Rimbauer in the garden pond. Faint screams, loud breathing, a child singing, and fleeting glimpses of figures in the house are reported.

  • 1972- Liza Albert vanishes after straying from her tour group and is never seen again. The only trace of her is her handbag ripped to bloody shreds. Historical tours of the house are immediately shut down for good.
  • 1972-2001- House falls into a deep disrepair and remains abandoned.
  • 1995-2000- House is rumored to have fallen dormant.

List of Deaths[edit | edit source]

Name Cause of Death Killer On Screen Notes
Kevin Bollinger Killed off-screen by an unseen force. Rose Red No
Pam Asbury Seemingly drowned in pond while in a trance Rose Red No
Victor "Vic" Kandinsky Died of a heart attack while being haunted by the ghost of Pam Asbury. None Yes
Nick Hardaway Disappeared while saving Cathy, becoming a spectral inhabitant of the mansion. The Ghost of Ellen Rimbauer No
Dr. Carl Miller The Ghost of Kevin Bollinger Yes
Kay Waterman The Ghost of Sukeena No
Dr. Joyce Reardon the ghosts of Ellen Rimbauer, Vic Kandinsky, Deanna Petrie, Kay Waterman, Carl Miller, Kevin Bollinger, Sukeena, Nick Hardaway, and Pam Asbury. Yes

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • Nancy Travis as Professor Joyce Reardon
  • Matt Keeslar as Steve Rimbauer
  • Kimberly J. Brown as Annie Wheaton
  • David Dukes as Professor Carl Miller
  • Judith Ivey as Cathy Kramer
  • Melanie Lynskey as Rachel Wheaton
  • Matt Ross as Emery Waterman
  • Julian Sands as Nick Hardaway
  • Kevin Tighe as Victor Kandinsky
  • Julia Campbell as Ellen Rimbauer
  • Emily Deschanel as Pam Asbury
  • Laura Kenny as Mrs. Kay Waterman
  • Tsidii Leloka as Sukeena
  • Yvonne Sciò as Actress Deanna Petrie
  • Jimmi Simpson as Kevin Bollinger
  • John Procaccino as John P. Rimbauer
  • Bobby Preston as (Young) Steven Rimbauer
  • Kristen Fischer as (Young) Annie Wheaton
  • Paige Gordan as April Rimbauer
  • Robert Blanche as Mr. George Wheaton
  • Mary Jo Dugaw as Mrs. Wheaton
  • Don Alder as Douglas Posey
  • Zoaunne LeRoy as Mrs. Stanton
  • Richard Sanders as Mr. Stanton
  • Stephen King as the Pizza Delivery Guy

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External links[edit | edit source]

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