Red, White and Blue
Is hell the sinking feeling you get when you’re bound and gagged and a bad man steps forward with something nasty held behind his back? Or is it what’s knocking around on the inside of your skull? A low-budget horror tour de force, Red White and Blue is a gritty, gory knockout that says hell is on the inside AND the out…
Hell is… Cigarettes and alcohol
A world-weary young woman with a voracious sexual appetite, Erica (Amanda Fuller) steers clear of emotional attachment; physical abandon is so much easier. Living free of charge in a local co-op, Erica cruises the seedy side of Austin for nightly adventures. Each new sheet-dampening experience is approached with a bleary smile as Erica plugs her orifices with cigarettes, men and alcohol, in no particular order.
Erica could do with a man who doesn’t try to sleep with her in place of a simple ‘hello’. Franki (Marc Senter) isn’t that man, unfortunately. A drummer in a garage band and wannabe rock star, Franki is on a one-way trip to self-delusion – he just needs a train or a woman to board to take him all the way there. Erica spends a busy night with Franki and all of his buddies and it should have been a meaningless chance encounter, but it spirals into something much, much more…
Franki aside, Erica’s luck turns when she meets reticent Nate (Noah Taylor), a mysterious and self-contained war veteran with an honorable discharge from Iraq who now works in a hardware store. Each a veteran in their own way, Nate and Erica form a fragile bond – but a cruel twist of fate means Erica’s wild past shockingly comes back to haunt her. It’s up to Nate and his military background to rescue Erica from a serious mess. From here on in, it’s a violently wild ride to hell. Remember hell? It’s that place where dark thoughts knock around inside your head. It’s also you, in a basement, bound and gagged with a man holding something nasty behind his back.
Sex and torture do not a torturepr4wn movie make…
In the words of up-and-coming British director Simon Rumley, Red White and Blue is “not a torture porn film; it was never intended to be. It has elements of torture porn because there is naked sex and there is torture, but most of the violence happens off camera.” Keeping much of the violence off-screen, Red White and Blue makes the viewer work overtime to fill in the gaps. As a result, the ending will leave you speechless. British director Simon Rumley cites Robert Rodriguez as an influence. That makes sense, but in many ways, Red White and Blue is like a whory, gory Texan Audition – You may not have seen anything, but you’ll feel like you’ve seen more than enough.
For the first part, the story of a broken woman beginning to pull herself out of the void is an assured psychological study of trauma and healing – and it’s fascinating to see aspects of her story replayed from the point of view of the other people in her life. The final segment is a splendidly horrific odyssey into vengeful extremes of gore. Now, the film’s quixotic nature could challenge horror fans who sit firmly on either side of the gore fence. Blood-and-guts enthusiasts might puzzle over the pacing and psychological sophistication that precedes the violence. Afficionados of suspense and psychological drama might run a mile from the bloody denouement. Whichever party you fall into, take up the challenge. Broaden your movie preferences. Use this bloody unnerving film to explore something new.
Red White and Blue is a game; a gloriously disturbing game of cat and mouse that relishes its mature content, moral complexity and inevitable slide into the realms of the unimagineable. Underpinned by a desolate score, the actors are low-key and intriguing. Nate in particular shines as a shades-of-grey Iraq veteran. Yes, he could be a psychopath in the making but those redeeming qualities keep peeking through – his occasional sentimentalism and his ability to place others above himself leave the viewer disturbed but engaged. The direction and camerawork in Red White and Blue are also fascinating. Though you might not notice unless it was pointed out, there are no camera moves in the first sixty minutes. This, coupled with the sophisticated shifts in time, make for a film that on the surface is a simple revenge drama, but it has the feel of a rare achievement.