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Film Review: The Red House (2014)

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SYNOPSIS:

When Shelby (Kate French) inherits a house from her grandfather she rallies her closest friends to check things out. It doesn’t take long after arriving in the remote home to realize something terribly is awry. Strange noises in the attic and the disappearance of her friends forecloses her dream of settling in. Will she unravel the sinister secret that lurks in the shadows or will she be forever imprisoned within The Red House?

REVIEW:

Directed By: Gregory Avellone
Starring: Kate French, Brendan Wayne, John Otrin, Yvette Yates, Cristen Coppen, Lawrence Adimora, Kat Sheridan, Ed Ackerman, Gregory Avellone

Red House is one of those films that evokes a great deal of excitement in the beginning credits. The audience is witness to a rapid succession of clips that are dark, skittish and claustrophobic. We sense something very foul is about to transpire and squirm with unease.

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Some industrial/techno type soundtrack enhances the degree of grit and despair. Cerebral and methodical type arrangement of an unseen killer ups the ante for fans of the Slasher genre. The opening clips are reminiscent of the grind house style of film making and most will be captivated to explore further.

A collection of female characters reinforces esthetic appeal. Sitting bikini clad at poolside we’re engaged by the first exchange of dialogue. While the protagonists of lead Shelby (Kate French), and her friends Carissa (Yvette Yates whom you may remember from Sorority Party Massacre) and Lindsay (Cristen Coppen) are absolutely stunning their interaction comes across as a little contrived. Their dialogue seems a bit forced and unnatural. It’s a minor irritation at first and even somewhat humorous. Yet it takes not a consummate film goer to grow frustrated with the less than stellar performances.

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The road trip sequence to the remote home seems a little bit predictable and somewhat formulaic to other such genre films. We expect more in this cine-adventure and are disappointed with the lack of finesse that could have been utilized. Some sophomoric jokes and a brief flash of nudity comes across as gratuitous and it’s difficult to take the production seriously as its sense of timing seems to miss its mark.

As we begin to get to know the characters a little better their interactions are amusing but we cannot help but question what group of friends really communicate this way. The end result appears as though the script writer may have been trying a little too hard to appeal to a young demographic but doesn’t really have a firm grasp on contemporary slang and culture. There is a rather redeemable moment of Travis’s (Lawrence Adimora) monologue that will have most succumbing to full out laughter. The blundering local sheriff (Brendan Wayne) also seems a bit cliché but adds further comedic relief in a gradual rising tension.

It takes over forty minutes for the first captive and bloodshed scene to transpire. The payoff wasn’t precisely poor by most standards but some may be disappointed in its execution after waiting for so long.

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The redneck gunmen who happen to play the local pot cultivators are played by Ed Ackerman (who you may remember from Hatchet 2 in the role of Cleatus) and the director Avellone as well. It’s difficult to determine the relevance of the two characters presence. Had their scenes been cut from the final product I do believe we’d have a much more rounded film. I commend Avellone for taking on dual duty of director and performer but in this instance it conveys too much confusion.

One stand-alone scene that involves the upstairs bedroom and a toy rocking horse is creepy as hell and will haunt the confines of your cerebral cortex for many nights to come. It was refreshing to see at least one clip that causes the hair to rise upon the nape of your neck.

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Some of the flash back sequences are interesting but difficult to determine their significance to the story until much later on. At first glimpse we’re suspicious if perhaps something had gone amiss in editing and two projects were spliced together.

Joshua King (John Otrin) is a very convincing villain or antagonist. His disturbed, unbalanced feel about him truly steals the show.

All in all The Red House isn’t a poor endeavor. It’s not for everyone yet I can see a firm cult following in the years to come. Regrettably I saw potential in the plot development that never really came into its full potential.

-Two and a half out of five tombstones

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