Starring Nathaniel DeMarco, A.C. Earing, Jessica Kennedy, Aaron LaBonte, Perry Tiberio
Directed by Fred Vogel
Relationships suck, don’t they? Especially if you’re too skinny, have incredibly low self-confidence and don’t believe you can live without your girlfriend. Nor that she should be allowed to live without you…
When I first heard that the sickos behind the August Underground duet (soon to be trilogy) were setting out to make a horror movie with an actual plot (sorry, but AU is all about the gore), needless to say I was a bit wary. Whether the madmen at Toe Tag Productions are horror fans has never been called into question; but can they write?
Turns out they can, as a matter of fact, and pretty damn well. In fact if any complaint can be made about The Redsin Tower right out of the gate it’s that there’s just a bit too much character development and not enough of that sweet, sweet gore fans have come to look forward to from Toe Tag. Don’t get me wrong though, Redsin is about as far from bloodless as can be, there were just some moments when I wished they’d spill it more often.
The story follows Kim, a girl who, after giving her boyfriend of six years, Mitch, one last sympathy fuck, dumps him in the nude (that’s gotta hurt), gives him back his engagement ring, and leaves. Cold, yes, but we get the impression it’s been building for a while now. Her cute, party girl Goth friend Becky insists that the best way to get over her breakup is by going out and having sex with random strangers, which I guess there’s something to be said for. So she sets out to do just that, though not without some trepidation, not understanding just how fucked up Mitch really is or how far he’ll go to get her back.
Kim and Becky hook up with some more friends and pretty soon they’re off to spend a spooky night in The Redsin Tower, a local haunted spot with all sorts of creepy rumors surrounding it. They could just as easily have stayed at home, smoked weed, drank beer and had sex, but there’s something about that trifecta that is just so much cooler if you’re in an abandoned, supposedly haunted castle. Apparently.
This is where it gets a bit confusing; in the middle of their “party” one of their friends apparently becomes temporarily possessed by the spirit of the Tower’s former owner, allowing the real, twisted history of the place to be told with a copious amount of gore thrown in for good measure. Once the story is told he’s back to his beer bong-slamming self and things are apparently back to normal. Then Mitch shows up with his crazy concepts about commitment and the role of an axe in a relationship and things go very badly for everyone. The presence of some disembodied spirit of vengeance doesn’t help matters much, either. The end result is bloody mess (literally, not storywise) that unfortunately goes on a bit too long.
That’s the other complaint I would make about Redsin, though it does roll into the first; there are scenes that go on for way too long. Scenes of kids exploring the Tower, scenes of Mitch walking around looking crazy, even scenes of girls being raped by disembodied spirits (I know, how could that get old?); there are just not enough edits throughout Redsin and ultimately the pacing suffers for it.
But if you’ve set out to make your first linear-story horror film with real characters and a plot, editing issues are the least of your worries. You’ve got to be concerned about the story, the dialogue and most importantly the actors. Luckily for the Toe Tag crew they managed to score on all three with only some minor setbacks. None of the cast are gong to win any awards, but neither are they the usual indie slaughter fodder you see these days. Their dialogue is believable and they seem like real friends who hang out a lot, thusly their interaction with one another comes across as very natural.
But Johnny, you say, what about the gore? Never fear, dear horror fan, there is plenty to be had throughout Redsin and unlike most indie films with little to no budget the camera never, ever shies away from showing you the real nasty stuff. Most productions are hampered by their inability to create realistic gore effects but Toe Tag has built their reputation making the kinds of vicious creations that people wonder (myself included as far as the first AU was concerned) just how much of it was fake. Guts are strewn, heads are caved in, bodies are picked apart and all of it looks fantastic.
The best part about the gore in Redsin Tower is that it works within the confines of the story. I was concerned the film would be chunks of plot mixed in with chunks of … well, chunks, without much tying the two together, but such was not the case. The horrible things that happen to these kids is spaced out in such a way that the actions fit into the overall narrative quite nicely, which makes the film as whole even more enjoyable.
Director Fred Vogel (who also co-wrote the script with August Underground: Mordum co-star Shelby Jackson) has proven himself to be more than just a shock filmmaker. This is a guy with a real love for the genre who drew some heavy influences from movies like Night of the Demons for Redsin and he’s not above having some fun within the horror, too (look for his cameo as a very stoned white kid with bad dreads). I, for one, have a newfound respect for the man and can’t wait to see what he does next. Unfortunately it’s another August Underground movie, but I’m hoping the lessons learned in Tower carry over to it.
No word on a release for Redsin Tower yet, but if something as vicious as Murder-Set-Pieces can get a major distro deal with Lionsgate, I don’t see this flick having any issues getting out there. Hopefully they’ll have some time to go in and trim a scene or two down to keep the pacing moving along before the rest of the world sees it, but even if not it’s well worth checking out!
3 1/2 out of 5
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