The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer

Starring: Steven Brand and Kate Burton
Warner Home Video
RRP: 15.99
Certificate: 12
Available 04 April 2005

The young woman of the title marries a wealthy businessman. They tour the world whilst their new home, transported brick by brick from England, is being built; an enormous mansion house named Rose Red. In no time at all Ellen realises that the house has a very active spirit of its own, and is growing stronger every day. Her husband proves to be a constant womaniser and increasingly unkind and self-centred. When two women disappear into thin air, one of them in front of witnesses, it only adds fuel to the fire. Against her own wishes, Ellen's little boy is sent off to boarding school. Her closeness to her even younger daughter is shattered when the infant is also taken by the house. With the help of her African friend and aid, Ellen soon learns that for the spirits to continue living the house must continually be extended. But her husband wants her friend out, threatening to stop the building if his wishes are not met...

I was interested to notice that horror writer Stephen King is one of the executive producers on this film, because it is essentially a shorter version of his mini-series which was actually called Rose Red. If you look back at my review of that DVD release you'll discover just how awful I thought it was. Nothing happened for the majority of the running time, and the thought of extras made me cringe.

Thankfully this film is nowhere near as bad. The shorter feature-length format means that what plot points there are have been squeezed together, making for a less brain-numbing experience. The best character in the piece is the African woman brought back by Ellen; she's at times strangely off-kilter and yet simultaneously a comfort. However, her attempt at seduction is rather less than convincing.

Whilst not a bad film it does suffer from cheap effects. Since the house, clothing and veteran cars (this is a period piece) are grand it makes no sense to throw a handful of glitter in, so to speak. Better not to have used any at all and instead create the atmosphere through clever use of music, lighting and direction.

Ty Power

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