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Little Red Devil (2008)

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Little Red Devil (click for larger image)Starring James Russo, Dee Wallace, Jim Lewis, Daniel Baldwin

Directed by Tommy Brunswick


Let’s face it: Satan is a big troublemaker. You really can’t trust a guy with such a reputation; or at least, you shouldn’t. Even if having fiery red skin, huge horns, goat hooves, and a mouth full of needle sharp fangs were accepted under the argument of embracing cultural diversity, the fact that he’s also evil incarnate should be enough to make most balk at inviting him over for dinner.

Shady Jimmy Lidell (Lewis) has had a tough time. His girlfriend disappeared under suspicious and worrisome circumstances months before, and now he finds himself spending his days diddling a prostitute and hanging out with even shadier friends. It’s one of these hoodlum friends that talks him into robbing a local gambler with a reputed large stash of cash stowed away in coffee cans. This robbery, which goes quite awry, reveals a possible clue to his girlfriend’s disappearance and leads Lidell to the acquaintance of local sleazy club owner and small time crime lord Luc (Baldwin). Luc, shadier than all the rest by several degrees of dark, takes the fledgling criminal under his leathery black wing and brings the lad into the organization, also promising to help with getting some information on Jimmy’s missing girlfriend.

The first general complaint of Little Red Devil is one of energy. This film will sap enthusiasm from the viewer like some sort of filmic entropy which leads to sharp stabbing compulsions to tab the fast forward button. This is mostly due to sputters in the story flow in which it feels nothing is happening. The worst of these is a virtual rash of flashback sequences which are used consistently throughout the film with a sort of manic obsession. Jimmy Lidell often stares sadly at pictures of his missing girlfriend, a pained look on his face, or otherwise day dreams flashback sequences that no one cares about. These scenes are crushing to any sort of energy a film might create. They are common to the point of becoming predictable; you can almost sense when Jimmy is about to reach for the damned photograph of his girlfriend and stare morosely at it for awhile.

The special effects in Little Red Devil are not really bad for the budget, though they do border (or step right into) the world of goofy. The devil and his minions within this film are reminiscent of Tim Curry’s getup in Legend, albeit at hugely discounted prices. The gore and violence is equally sort of silly, sometimes outright so, such as when one victim gets his head crushed by a devil and his skull collapses into a silly CGI flathead with bulging cartoon eyes that looks like something old Warner Brothers animators might have drawn up while drunk on fermented glue.

Given the film’s cheeky title, the fairly light and humorous special effects, as well as its mild dose of T&A, one might expect the tone to be fun, perhaps even funny. This is the film’s greatest failing; it takes itself too seriously. There are other films vaguely similar to this, especially from the great 80’s, which had some success simply because they also seeded good doses of humor in between the monster reveals and the next pole dancing stripper.

Little Red Devil’s greatest flaw is that it fails to even try to be funny when that is exactly what it needed. If you make a film with big rubbery devils and boob shaking prostitutes, you just can’t leave out the humor; it should be one of the seven deadly sins to attempt otherwise.

Lastly, let’s talk about Satan himself. Satan is widely accepted to be a sincerely bad-ass dude with aspirations of overthrowing God. However, here he’s nothing more than a petty crime-lord who runs a small town night club. He’s not out courting presidents and kings, subverting nations to fight amongst one another in order to herald the end times so that he might finally step out of the dark shadows and pee on your dog, no; instead he’s a chump bad guy who actually looks like he could possibly lose in a fist fight with Jesus. This isn’t really Daniel Baldwin’s fault, who does play the role reasonably well, but rather a fault of the script which casts the hoary dark overlord of the infernal abyss as a petty small town crime lord nobody. Satan should sue.

“>“>
1 1/2 out of 5

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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