Writers are a common trope in Stephen King’s work and sometimes they work such as in Misery or 1408 while at other times it seems like a crutch such as the story for Bag of Bones. I’ve read many of King’s novels but unfortunately, Bag of Bones is not one of them and therefore I came to the adaptation of the book as a TV mini-series with a little trepidation. In the right hands King’s novels can be made into classic films such as Sand By Me (1986), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), or The Shining (1980), while other times they can become a travesty of cinema such as The Graveyard Shift (1990), the various Children of the Corn films, or Trucks (1997). His made for TV movies are always a mixed bag such the infamous ending to It (1990), Desperation (2006), Rose Red (2002), and countless others.
Bag of Bones stars Pierce Brosnan as novelist Mike Noonan whose wife Jo (Annabeth Gish) has just recently died and he decides to visit their vacation home of which she spent a lot of time at. He has suspicions of his wife having had an affair but as he investigates this he becomes drawn into a child custody battle involving a local widow Mattie (Melissa George) and her child’s wealthy and influential grandfather. Mike also learns that there is more than meets the eye with the residents of the town which may have a profound effect on his own family history that may have dire consequences for himself.
Bag of Bones is one of the less effective King adaptations and offers very little new to the haunted and ghost genre that hasn’t been better explored in previous King stories or films. Part of the reason why the film does not stand out is because there are no new ideas despite the better than expected cast. Like many TV mini-series based on King’s novels this one feels too long and that an hour should have been cut from the final film (as the film was a 2-part 4-hour mini-series with commercials). Where many of King’s novels excel at the long length and leisure pace, the film needs to be trimmed down and fine-tuned in order to showcase a stronger story. This being said, Bag of Bones will not offer anything new that the general audience hasn’t already seen better done in other films. This is a film for the die-hard King fans.