Red White and Blue (2010)
Reviewed by Evil Andy
Starring Noah Taylor, Amanda Fuller, Marc Senter, Nick Ashy Holden
Directed by Simon Rumley
Simon Rumley is without a doubt one of the most interesting and talented directors working in genre cinema today. The fact that his films skirt the line between art house and horror results in his movies being relegated to the gutter between the two worlds. Originally we hadn't planned to even review his latest film Red White and Blue due to its tenuous link to horror, but this movie is so representative of the types of films genre fans should be clamoring for that we would be doing a grave disservice in not writing about it. Simon Rumley is here to rescue us from blunt horror films composed of trite metaphor, simplistic characters, and explicit imagery devoid of purpose.
Red White and Blue is a triptych in film form. A three word title applied to a temporally fractured three act narrative depicting the disintegration of the three main characters. Red is the color of violated innocence as embodied by Erica (Amanda Fuller) a young woman who spends her days cleaning a claptrap Austin apartment in exchange for rent, and her nights barebacking her demons in the form of meaningless sex with strangers. In her own words "I never fuck the same guy twice" and "I don't do friends". White is the color of upper middle class twenty-somethings who adopt the dress and demeanor of the dispossessed in the way that only those for whom societal acceptance is assured can.
Ricki (The Lost's Marc Senter) and his buddies might look like they stepped out of Larry Clark's Kids, but are at their core nice polite suburban kids who despite their punk affectations dream of marrying the girl next door and claiming the comfy American life that is their birthright. Blue is the color of military service, which used to be about protecting freedoms, but is increasingly about relieving others of theirs. Nate likes to tell people he's just biding his time working in a hardware store while he considers a job from the CIA. He may or may not belying to make his lonely squalid life more bearable, but his knowledge of (government sanctioned?) torture techniques is ominous nonetheless.
Red White and Blue follows these three characters putting them together in a loveless triangle in which no one is truly good, or wholly evil. In Rumley's world red white and blue mixed together result only in shades of grey. To say more about the plot would diminish the experience of discovering what the film is about while you watch it. Red White and Blue is a movie that rewards patient viewers who are willing to allow the early ambiguity of the film to slowly coalesce into coherence. In the first hour it's easy to think that Erica is only damaging herself with her sexual recklessness, or that Ricki is just a good kid and solicitous son, or that Nate is merely a skinny and powerless loser. Rest assured that by the end of the film all these assumptions will be inverted as the characters are revealed to be far more complex, and damaged than initially depicted. The plot evolves in a similarly intricate fashion with the character heavy drama of the first hour giving way to graphic horror and human despair in the final third.
There are many horror films these days that endeavor to depict the festering rot at the heart of the American Dream, but few that do so with such subtlety and effectiveness. The fact that Red White and Blue comes from a British director maybe hints at a rot at the core of American genre cinema as well. Maybe if enough of us seek this film out Simon Rumley and his collaborators will be given the chance to introduce their particular brand of smart and subdued horror to a broader audience.
4 1/2 out of 5
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