Bag of Bones (2011) Review



Bag of Bones is an overly long mini-series that fails to live up to Stephen King’s book despite Pierce Brosnan’s best efforts.

Plot: Writer Mike Noonan (Pierce Brosnan) goes to his lake house to investigate his deceased wife’s activities but finds more than he bargained for.

Review: Bag of Bones, released in 1998, was not one of Stephen King’s best, but it was a decent story and a terrific page-turner.  Told in the first person of the Mike Noonan character, there’s a lot of internal debate and observations that I thought would be difficult to capture on celluloid.  However, the director was Mick Garris, a King veteran who helmed decent adaptations of King’s “The Shining,” “The Stand,” and “Riding the Bullet”.  So, I hoped that this would be another entertaining take on the King of Horror.

Unfortunately, I think Garris and the producers bit off more than they could chew with this one.  Perhaps it’s because we couldn’t get some of the entertaining insights from the Mike Noonan character that we got in the book.  Maybe it’s the changes they made from the book, which were unneeded and bizarre.  Whatever the case, Bag of Bones is more dud than a serviceable book adaptation.

Pierce Brosnan is the main character; I can only say he did his best.  He did ham it up a bit, and quite frankly, there wasn’t enough for him to do.  He looked at pictures of his wife and cried.  He drank.  He saw strange phenomenon with slack-jawed amazement.  Brosnan’s natural charisma is displayed in fits and starts, but he mostly looks bewildered or bored.  The rest of the cast is non-descript, except for William Schallert and Deborah Grover, who appear devious and unsettling.  Caitlin Carmichael also does her best as Kyra Devore and at least isn’t annoying.  Melissa George, Matt Frewer, Anika Noni Rose, and Jason Priestley have been in better things and are mostly wasted.

Part of the problem is the damn thing is so long.  A two-part mini-series running 163 minutes, it really could have been told in two hours.  It takes forever for Brosnan to get to Dark Score Lake, and there just isn’t much happening.  A bell rings, spun by ghostly fingers.  He almost runs over a girl.  Nothing feels connected or important.  His relationship with the Melissa George character accelerates without reason and feels contrived.  The villains leer and seem mean but do little else.  The wife is alive at the beginning and has no character – her death lacks emotion and is ridiculous to boot.

A lot of the excitement from the book is changed for the mini-series for the worse.  A lot of the conflict and danger is negated, and the ghosts in the movie appear to be more nuisance than threat. The climax is a joke, with the spirit of Sara Tidwell beaten by a shout instead of an actual fight.  Also, having her appear in a tree?  Dumb idea and really bad CGI to boot.  Also, changing the curse’s victims from children of both sexes to just daughters in the mini-series?  Again, dumb, and it adds nothing to the story.  Perhaps it’s just another political comment from the writers that women are more vulnerable than men, but it’s an unneeded change from the book.

I can’t recommend Bag of Bones, the mini-series, but I happily will recommend the book.  Save yourself 163 minutes and watch Shawshank Redemption, Misery, or even Riding the Bullet.  You’ll have a better time than watching this bloated wreck.