‘The Dark Red’ Is A Slow Burn With A Killer Payoff [Watch]

The Dark Red

Welcome to The Overlook Motel, a place where under-seen and unappreciated films are given their moment in the spotlight. I hope you enjoy your stay here and find the accommodations to be suitable. Now, please take a seat and make yourself comfortable, I have some misbehaving guests to ‘correct’. 

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This week’s selection is a real diamond in the rough. In spite of being an unpredictable and thrilling effort that counts the ultra-talented Dan Bush (The Signal) as a co-writer and director, The Dark Red remains woefully under-seen by the masses.  

The flick catches up with a woman named Sybil (April Billingsley) who’s been committed to a mental health facility. The bulk of her story is conveyed to the audience as she recounts her journey to a therapist. Sybil says she has a rare blood type that gives her telepathic abilities and also suggests her baby was cut out of her womb by a ruthless cult. Naturally, her clinician is more than a little skeptical.  

Now that we have the basic setup out of the way, I will do my best to be as spoiler free as possible from here on out because the less you know for certain before going into The Dark Red, the better. Discerning what is or is not real is a large part of what makes this flick so compelling to a first-time viewer. 

If you are watching The Dark Red for the first time, keep in mind that it takes a moment for the film to bring everything into focus. It is quite the slow burn affair. We spend much of the first two acts learning Sybil’s backstory and uncovering how she arrived at the institution where she is being held. There’s initially no irrefutable proof regarding whether the abilities she claims to possess are genuine or a symptom of mental illness. But trust me when I say that the patient viewer will be rewarded for their endurance.  

In fact, the third act is far better because of the deliberate build to get there. The groundwork has been laid, allowing the story to take flight. However, if we had all the info from the onset, I don’t think The Dark Red would be nearly as effective.

Cowriters Dan Bush and Conal Byrne smartly opted to tell the story from Sybil’s perspective, as she recounts the events to her therapist. The notion that we may be getting our information from an unreliable narrator adds an element of uncertainty that keeps the viewer on their toes. The seeds of uncertainty that are planted are used to remarkable effect, making the moment at which all is revealed far more powerful than if everything had been clear-cut from the jump. 

The final 30-minutes of The Deep Red that follow the eventual moment of clarity are absolutely jaw-dropping. The tonal shift is significant but it’s earned by that which came before it. Accordingly, what transpires in the third act is as satisfying as it is unexpected. Watching the character dynamics shift leading up to the denouement is a pleasure. But to say any more than that would be a disservice to potential viewers. So, I will leave it there and let you experience the film for yourself. 

As for why The Dark Red remains under-seen, I suspect that has a lot to do with timing. The flick was released in 2020, during a global pandemic. As such, I think it got lost in the shuffle. And that’s a shame. Dan Bush is a gifted filmmaker and he proves that once again with this twisty tale. 

If you are eager to check out The Dark Red for yourself, you are in luck. It is available to stream from Tubi, Peacock, and Vudu, as of the publication of this post. 

That’s all for this installment. Thanks for checking in to The Overlook Motel. If you’re keen to chat more about under-seen and underrated films, feel free to hit me up with your thoughts on social media @FunWithHorror!



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