Mick Garris on BAG OF BONES – Behind the Curtain
« Dark Score Lake is about halfway between Castle Rock & Derry in the state of Maine, not too very far from Jerusalem’s Lot. It is a rich tapestry, woven through the works of Stephen King in novels, short stories, films and television. It is a part of Americana, a testament to the deep, relatable, real-world elements of the author’s work.
I have always said that King’s work is not nearly so much about the monsters in the closet as it is about the people who live in the house with the invaded closet. They live in a world we can all relate to, with deep, emotionally-resonant lives that begin before Page One, and continue (if they’re lucky) beyond The End. King sets his work on a very familiar planet, and we are all the richer for it.
And then he takes us to hell and scares the shit out of us.
Bag of Bones is, in my humble opinion, one of his most passionate books, a ghost story that is as much about the nature of love and romance as it is about retribution for the sins of the father. It’s a story about secrets, a long-harbored mystery, a series of brutal murders and a battle between two spirits caught in the netherworld : one of them motivated by love and the other by hatred and revenge.
For me, the main job adapting King’s book to film is through the characters, to ground it in a world that we can understand, to make the world of Dark Score Lake rich and mysterious, ominous in its dark beauty. It’s why i am so drawn to his work : as filled with fear as his tales are, they are deeper than that. His stories are not so much about external terror as they are about the horrors within, those fears that fill us from inside and fight their way out of us. King’s litterary Maine is entirely his own, and yet we feel we’ve all lived or vacationed there.
Shadows and water and color – the elemental blue of water and rebirth and the deep red of blood & passion – as well as the Lake House itself, they are all characters as well. It is a basic thruth that film is external and prose internal. Our job was to make the internal external, if that makes sense.
Dark Score Lake harbors secrets, some of them deeper under the surface than others. Order the Village Burger at Buddy Jellison’s place, and you just might learn a bit more about batty old billionnaire Max Devore than you want to know. Or the plight of Mattie Devore, who’s doing her best to raise her little girl all on ther own, now that Old Max has cut her off… especially after what she did to his son.
Brand Meserve has been around the Lake the longest, perhaps, aside from Old Max, and she sems t o be a front of information, but Rogette Whitmore is the guardian of the darkest, most clandestine secrets. The Warrington’s Resort might be a faded harridan now, but back in the 1930s it was a lively gateway, and the heart of a prospering town. Small towns that prosper are harder to come by these days, and Dark Score Lake has turned a bit more hardscrabble. The young folks don’t hang around long, and the older ones are dying off, with some of their horrible secrets.
As you turn the pages and meet the people of Dark Score Lake, look deeper below the surface and see if you can decipher the secrets that they hide.
Copyright Mick Garris, A&E, reprinted with their permission.