Massawyrm celebrates RED, WHITE & BLUE as his most memorable SXSW experience!
Published at: March 25, 2010, 9:56 a.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
RED, WHITE & BLUE is not a nice film. It is not a fun film. In fact, it is not what anyone in their right mind would call an enjoyable film. But it is something of a brilliant film; a dark, brooding, macabre piece of fiction that will leave you feeling a lot like you did the first time you watched REQUIEM FOR A DREAM or I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Director Simon Rumley wants to challenge you; he wants to make you cringe, reel and question the morality of 3 relatively despicable people. And when he’s done doing that, he wants to tie you up in knots.
To be honest, I absolutely hated this film for the first half of it. Set up as something of a typical, no-budget proto-indie film, it revolves around three characters who in short order reveal themselves to be thoroughly unlikable. One is a hipster douchebag rock star wannabe; one is a disheveled loner who reveals himself to be something of a serial killer fantasist; and the third is a tramped up turbo slut who’s first line of dialog in the film (after nearly five fairly graphic minutes, presented in montage over a number of nights) is “Look, I don’t fall in love, I don’t stay over and I never fuck the same guy twice.” The film is cut together in that slice of life, all-the-interesting-bits-cut-out format in which something happens and then we immediately cut away. A phone rings. A character reaches to answer it. Cut to same character smoking five minutes later. Lather, rinse, repeat.
But then about halfway through there is a revelation that changes the very nature of the movie; something that completely redefines a character and immediately puts the other two into a situation akin to a slow-motion train wreck. You know what’s going to happen – what HAS to happen – and once it is no longer a matter of what will happen, it becomes about how quickly and how bad it will be when it does. This revelation and the film that follows is taut, gut-wrenching, white-knuckle drama that dips its toes into horror whilst staying squarely in the real world. And all of a sudden everything falls into place. Rumley takes the all-the-interesting-bits-cut-out editing into the horrific parts of the film’s third act and creates a post-torture porn aesthetic that put the horror firmly in your mind without having to show you the grisly details or lingering on a terrible image for effect. Instead, everything terrible happens in your own imagination. Oh sure, Rumley shows you what’s about to happen – but the camera moves away, or cuts before the moment that most films would display as their money shot. Because it is not that kind of film.
This is a film about sharing some terribly disturbing ideas with you. It is a film about monstrous things without a single one of the characters being a monster. As much as each is despicable, so too are they equally pitiable – a pitiful human being driven to become who they are by circumstance or twist of fate. You don’t walk away hating any of them; you simply walk away thinking that while not a one of them got what they truly deserved, the film couldn’t have ended any other way. And the whole ordeal will kind of turn your stomach.
I saw this sitting embedded in a row of film critics and journalists, each one of them a seasoned cineaste with a full bodied knowledge of horror and indie thrillers – and yet there were gasps, covered mouths, and whispered oh my gods. During one particularly trying scene, a couple of them cried out. This film is not for the faint at heart. It is for the hardcore movie lover who wants to be taken on an emotional journey into some dark places they’ve never been. It will make you feel icky and make the weaker of constitution among you beg for mercy. And it is not a film to be entered into lightly.
Driving this no-budget film is a dedicated cast of relative unknowns, each pouring their heart and soul into some pretty meaty characters. There isn’t a single easy role in this films trifecta, and Rumley pulled a hat trick in casting each of them perfectly. Noah Taylor (TOMB RAIDER, THE LIFE AQUATIC) plays the brooding loner with freakish and disturbing abandon; Amanda Fuller incinerates the film with her damaged sexuality as the detached tramp; and Marc Senter (THE LOST, I KNOW WHO KILLED ME) nails the role of the hipster jerkoff who is wrestling with the slow death of his mother to cancer.
Shot in and around Austin, this film makes quite a lot out of very little. This is low budget film making at its finest. Built entirely around ideas and characters rather than flashy edits or splashy horror effects, this film will take you on a journey to some dark and bitter places and you will come out on the other side very effected – one way or the other. Conceptually revolting in the best way possible, this is one of those underground films you need to put onto your radar and track down as soon as you can find it.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.