Monday, June 20, 2011

Red White & Blue (2010)

Don't Mess With Texas

If you read my recent review for Little Deaths, you'll remember that my favorite story in the movie was "Bitch" by Simon Rumley. Eager to see more of his work, I was elated upon discovering that Rumley had previously released the full-length feature Red White & Blue just before his participation in Little Deaths. Far surpassing "Bitch" in viciousness, Red White & Blue is a true kick in the gut; a brutal curbstomp of realism, desperation, and death that centers around three characters tragically bound by horrible circumstances, ultimately resulting each person's own form of revenge that leaves the audience with a terrifying film containing no true protagonist. Why is that so terrifying? Well, how many films have you sat through that leave you hopeless and with nobody to root for? This isn't your average drama/thriller. Red White & Blue is a slice of life piece that takes you through the minds of three random nobodies, forcefully dragging you along through every dread-instilling moment until these characters literally have their lives...well...sliced.

The Austin, Texas based film begins by following Erica (Amanda Fuller), whose sexual proclivity is one for the books, spending her nights in bars looks for any guy to take her home for some casual fun. Jobless, she's on the verge of being kicked out of her apartment by her landlord who has been letting her stay rent free as long as she kept the building clean at all times. Enter Nate (Noah Taylor, The New Daughter), a troubled war vet who was honorably discharged for reasons unknown. Nate, who lives in the same apartment complex, takes a strong liking to Erica and even hooks her up with a job at his workplace, a large warehouse specializing in home supplies. Much to his chagrin, Nate constantly spies Erica venturing into the warehouse bathroom with male coworkers, still on her seemingly sleazy path of self destruction. It's obvious that Nate has strong feelings for Erica, but is having trouble coping with her troubling lifestyle, especially when she has made it clear that she will never sleep with him. Soon, we're introduced to Franki (Marc Senter, The Lost), one of Erica's previous one night stands from the beginning of the film. Franki is in an up-and-coming band that's about to book a European tour, but aside from this, his life is a mess. His mother is suffering from cancer and Franki is taking care of her around the clock, bringing her to the hospital for treatments and often donating blood for her as well. Franki soon realizes that he has to deal with the repercussions of his sexual encounter with Erica, which causes his life to spiral out of control. Suddenly, Erica has vanished out of thin air and Nate begins to suspect someone has taken her, leading to a violent third act that pulls no punches and will likely leave the viewer stunned as the horror unfolds.

Goddamn, this was a brutal film to watch, and I don't even mean in terms of violence. It's hard to write a plot description without giving too much away, but the story gets so increasingly fucked up, it's almost hard to watch. As I said before, this film is about three nobodies who happen to enter each other's lives, and the realism of these main characters having very little redeeming qualities makes it all the more uncomfortable. I'm sure each viewer will be different, but I particularly found myself most understanding when it came to Franki's character. I loved how he was barely introduced in the beginning as just another sex-craving man, and then much later in the film, is re-immersed as a fleshed out character who actually has real problems and is a truly good person at heart. This doesn't justify some of his later actions in the film, but out of the three main characters, he was the only one I truly cared for to an extent.

The third act is where the horror of the story comes in, as Nate exacts a bloody revenge on those he believes know where Erica may be. It's uncomfortable to watch as most of his victims had only a small portion of a hand in her disappearance, but Nate refuses to listen to anyone's explanation, even tying up and threatening one man's wife and young daughter. It's clear that Nate isn't the type to let anyone make it out alive, and that adds an almost unbearable tension to his torturous displays.

While Red White & Blue isn't a straight-up horror film, it easily belongs on Take My Life, Please as it's far more engaging, relentless, and uncompromising than many of the films reviewed on this site. The film's realistic approach to these three characters is more voyeuristic than cinematic, which increases the impact every time the plot delivers a sucker punch to the audience. With a well-rounded cast, a story that grabs you by the throat and never lets go, and some shocking scenes that will make the most diehard gorehounds cringe,  Red White & Blue is a must see for those who enjoy a mix of horror/thrillers and independent downer films. If that sounds like your kind of cocktail, you'll definitely drink it up and ask for another.

 4/5 Stars

This production still is being added as a reminder to myself that these are friendly actors and not horrible people

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