DECEMBER 4, 2009
If you plan on seeing Red Velvet, I would urge you to skip any synopsis of the film, as it spoils something that doesn’t really occur until the film’s final 15 minutes. And since this plot point makes up half of the ending, and the other half sucks, it sort of deflated my enjoyment of the film as a whole. What was intended to be a surprise instead comes off as “yeah, I knew that going in”, and what IS a surprise comes off as “What the fuck just happened?”.
But until that point, it’s a wonderfully odd and fairly original slasher. Henry Thomas plays a guy with obvious problems who goes out of his way to “meet cute” with a girl (Kelli Garner) and then spends the next half hour berating her and generally being a huge dick. Normally this would make a movie unwatchable (not to mention entirely implausible), but the script establishes that the girl has a real asshole for a boyfriend, which means she LIKES assholes, and is thus conceivably interested in at least talking to Thomas despite his behavior. And she’s just as bitter toward him, so you get all of these traditional scenes (they meet in a Laundromat, go out for Thai food, etc) but they’re endlessly insulting each other in wholly loathsome ways.
The slasher stuff comes in from a party that she was supposed to attend. It’s the usual sort of Friday the 13th type stuff, akin to part 4 or 7 (rented house, party, everyone dies), and a scene that directly recalls A New Beginning (where a peeping tom is offed instead of the two fornicating youths). But the difference is that our killer has a voice box and is sort of inept (when a victim kicks him in the balls, he mutters “Ah, no fair!”), and he’s into using oddball elements such as a tree saw. He also knocks two folks in a pit, and then tosses down a rope. Since they think it’s just one of their friends playing a gag, they begin to climb the rope, unaware that the other end is tied to an alligator. Hahahaha, awesome.
And it’s obvious that the writers know their slasher movies. In addition to the Friday homages, there’s a bit of Happy Birthday To Me thrown in at the end, and one could even consider the killer’s final trick to be an homage to Valentine (this might be wishful thinking on my part). I also dug a POV shot from the heroine’s perspective - pretty rare, might even be the first instance. Imagine if there was a shot in Halloween where we would be literally watching through Laurie’s eyes as we had been watching through Michael’s for so much of the film.
Speaking of the writers, this movie has the strangest writing credit I've ever seen. "Written and Story by Anthony Burns", followed by "Screenplay by Anthony Burns and Joe Moe". So it's Moe's screenplay, but he didn't write it?
Like I said though, I just didn’t care much for the ending, which seemed to involve “was it all real or just a dream” type nonsense mixed with over-stylized camerawork that felt out of place. Supposedly if I “watch it again” it will make more sense, but alas I don’t have time to rewatch a film simply to get a point that should have been clear on a single viewing. There’s a big difference between re-watching a film and being rewarded for it (such as Usual Suspects), and having to do so in order to understand key plot points. Shit, I still haven’t even re-watched Inside a 2nd time.
The DVD just hit stores, and contains a commentary and some other stuff. My screener was just the movie (and was squeezed into a full frame aspect ratio; I had to futz with my settings to get it to look right), so I cannot comment on their worth. But if the movie is cheap enough and you enjoy slashers that do something pretty original and intriguing while still delivering the slasher moments you expect (i.e. Behind the Mask), then I highly recommend the disc for the movie alone.
What say you?