Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

Originally conceived as a joint project for Stephens King and Spielberg, a grandiose haunted-house tale for the ages, this miniseries eventually saw the latter drop out, but that didn't hurt it: While it bears King's weaknesses, it also bears his strengths, including a sharp sense of character and an uncanny creepiness that makes you want to pop in the second disc even after the exhaustingly long first one ends. (Word to the wise: The first disc is two thirds of the series.) King says in the bonus materials that he prefers the miniseries to the movie because it gives his ideas room to breathe and his stories the breadth of a novel, but I think it's because ABC gives him greater latitude as producer and storyteller; this picture seems to include every idea in every margin of his overstuffed screenplay, and it's so full that it has to rush in the closing minutes just to tie up the loose threads. Some of the plot elements can be unsatisfying, such as a main character who shifts ideologies so radically that you can't tell if she's been possessed, gone crazy, or is just badly written, but that same unsettled nature sustains the tension by denying you a solid footing as a viewer. King is a novelist whose weaknesses are his strengths and vice versa, and that same up-is-down quality makes this miniseries an imposing thriller.

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