For my first Movie Monday I decided to review Stephen King’s Bag of Bones. I expected it to be middling-to-fine, the same way most of his movies have been (notable exception: Pet Sematary, which still scares the bejesus out of me). A solid B-movie.
Okay, maybe I expected a little more from this one, because it’s got Pierce Brosnan, and he’s good, right?
I ended up enjoying this movie a lot more than I thought I would.
I love seeing other writers at work, even if they’re only characters. I like all the little industry tidbits King throws in (are there really such things as “trunk novels”? I like to think there are.) It’s like he’s sharing little in-jokes, leaving breadcrumbs for hungry writers like me.
Sure, I noticed that Jo’s eyes rolled after she was dead, and the glaring continuity error in part one that puts glasses on Brosnan in the blink of an eye, and I’m not even going to dignify the tree branch bitch-slap, but overall there was a surprising amount of good.
I love an emotional performance, which I have to admit Pierce Brosnan delivered well in his widower role. His intensity was startling. The emotional scenes in Bag of Bones were heart-wrenching (Sara Tidwell in the woods, good God). Although King’s story isn’t “scary” to me, it’s deeply unsettling.
King himself has said that he’s not trying to write high literature, calling himself the “the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries”. You can see it in this movie. It’s a made-for-tv. It looks and feels like an extended episode of American Horror Story. There’s not much in the way of depth or symbolism, unless that ringing moose bell is supposed to stand for God or something. Every emotion, every scare, is laid bare on the surface. The audience is able to sit back and let it happen, without much interaction at all.
And you know what?
Maybe that’s okay.
I’ve tried and tried to write my literary opus. Something that explores the intensity of human relationships, something that tells a meaningful story that teaches the reader about life. And maybe it’s because I’m not yet 30 (yay!) or because literature just ain’t my thang, but whenever I set out to write Life’s Truth it comes off hackneyed and ridiculous. I find it tedious, and would never want someone else to have to sit through it. I don’t have any more answers than anyone else, and I don’t have a beautiful story to tell. Maybe in time, I will.
But in the meantime, the stories I love best are the ones that might not be high art, but are just plain interesting. The little thrills, the anticipation and sometimes the oogy-boogy surprise. So for now, if I can be even a tenth as good as Mr Mac-And-Fries, and have fun doing it, maybe that’s where I need to be.