Mick Garris has wrapped up his adaptation of Stephen King’s Bag of Bones, which will air in just a little over a month on A&E. I should be excited about this, because Bag of Bones is my favorite King book. Unfortunately, Garris is my least favorite director of King adaptations. I like some things about his version of The Stand, and I liked his approach to The Shining, but there was a good bit more there that I didn’t enjoy. And Sleepwalkers? Riding the Bullet? Desperation? “Ugh” all around.
I know it sounds harsh, and I’ve been rebuked about my opinion on this before because, by all accounts, Garris is a very nice person. I’m sure he is, and I mean nothing personal at all toward him. It’s just that King is my favorite writer, and so I’m a little more critical in my opinions of what’s done with his work. To be fair, I’ll say that Garris did not make the worst Stephen King movie ever – that honor goes to King himself for Maximum Overdrive.
But I digress…when I heard an adaptation of Bones was in the works, I was happy. Then I heard it was Garris, and not so much. However, given that he had two nights on cable TV to work with, I was – and continue to be – willing to be open-minded. And I’ve got to say, the bits and pieces that have leaked out from the show so far have only strengthened my optimism.
I’m not one of those that has to have a letter-perfect recreation of the source material to be happy. I can tell from the photos and such that we’ve seen so far that there are some differences from book to screen, and that’s fine – it has to be done, sometimes, to make an adaptation work. All I want is for the spirit and tone of what King pulled off in the novel to make it to the screen. I don’t have to feel like I’ve read the book again after seeing the movie, I just want to feel like I’ve experienced the book again.
So far, it’s looking good. Photos, trailers, the little behind-the-scenes video that’s been circulated – everything seems to be hitting the right tone. Today, though, brought the best indicator so far of the work and dedication that’s gone into this project – a website called Dark Score Stories.
I haven’t delved into the whole thing yet, but I like what I’ve seen so far. Basically, Dark Score Stories purports to be a photo essay about Dark Score Lake, the locale in which Bag of Bones is set. The “photojournalist” (I’ve yet to locate a name on the site) is exhibiting portraits of several Dark Score residents, most of whom will be familiar to anyone who has read Bones. There’s also a brief written essay on each subject, as well as audio commentary that I haven’t made my way through yet.
But the photos themselves give several clues as to how Garris is approaching the story, and again – my optimism grows. There are characters both familiar (Buddy Jellison, Mattie and Lance and Kyra Devore, Jo Noonan) and unfamiliar (Edgar Owens, who appears to be our gateway into the story of Sara Tidwell). There are locales like The Village Cafe and Dark Score Lake itself that look spot-on. And stuffed into practically every photograph are callbacks and Easter eggs to King’s immense body of work. Look closely and you’ll see references to characters, products, phrases and places harkening all the way back to King’s debut novel Carrie. It’s an amazing amount of detail, and I hope that it’s more than just some throwaway fun for Garris and the production crew – I hope it’s an indicator of how keen they are on the little things that matter in a big way.
As I said, I don’t expect a rote adaptation here, and it’s clear that’s not what we’re going to get. But Bag of Bones, the novel, is a haunting piece of work that has continued to resonate with me long after I finished it the first time, and I hope to have a similar experience when I tune in this December.