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Film Review: Red Hookers (short film) (2013)

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SYNOPSIS:

Red Hookers is a Brazilian low budget short that tells the story of two sisters who face an evil force in the form of a sexy woman. The film is loosely inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos and it’s title makes a pun with the H.P. Lovecraft’s short story Horror in Red Hook.

REVIEW:

Red Hookers is a short horror film from Brazil by the filmmaking team of writer Ramiro Giroldo and director Larissa Anzoategui (A Janela da Outra, Astaroth, Fatal) that stands as a great example of the classic creature feature for the 21st century. This is a film that blurs the boundaries between sexy and grotesque, all the while reveling in splatterpunk-style blood and gore. Add in beautiful Brazilian dancers and a distinctly H.P. Lovecraft influenced flavor, and this is a story that could only be told by Astaroth Productions (the trio of director Anzoategui, writer Giroldo, and cinematographer Rose).

Red Hookers is a tale of two sisters who are heading in distinctly different directions. Karen (Monica Mattos; Astaroth, Zombeach, The Augusta Street Ripper) is the “good daughter,” a college student who is working hard to make something of herself. Meanwhile, Cherry (played by Jacqueline Takara, who also plays the adorably awesome Mai in Astaroth) is the “bad girl,” the one who does her own thing, parties, and gets into trouble. Right away we are introduced to how this dynamic between sisters works when Karen, trying to study for class in the morning, is relegated to the couch so that Cherry and her “friend” can take the bedroom. This is repeated another night, when Cherry brings the mysterious and equal parts sexy and scary Shub (Ju Calaf; Limerence, Astaroth) home again. Karen is left with a bad feeling about the whole scenario, so when the ladies leave in the morning she investigates, only to find syringes and a slimy green stain on her bed, along with a business card for a place called Red Hookers. And soon we find out that Karen was absolutely right to worry, as a vicious evil has been reborn.

There are a lot of Lovecraftian elements to this short film. It all starts with the title itself, Red Hookers, as in “The Horror at Red Hook,” the Lovecraft story published back in 1927. Next up, there’s Cherry’s mysterious friend, Shub, or Shub-Niggurath if you’re so inclined, named after one of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones, an entity whose name appears in many of the writer’s stories. Of course, there are also the more obvious elements, including the ever-popular tentacles and a reference to a certain Cthulu, but to say much more about either of these would tread into dangerous spoiler territory. Suffice it to say, Lovecraftian references and homages are all over the horror genre of film, but it is rare that the word “sexy” is placed so prominently next to the author’s name, which it certainly is here (the timeless beauty of Barbara Crampton is the obvious exception).

The actors of Red Hookers are great, adding quality and depth to their characters, with special distinction going to Mattos and Takara for doing everything in their power to make the audience know and care about their characters despite the very short amount of time given to become acquainted with them. The story is interesting and manages a couple small surprises along the way. And while the gore is obviously low budget, it still works quite well. The only complaint about the film is the running time: the story felt like it had a lot of possibilities, and it’s sad to see it end so soon. Everything happens very quickly, no doubt a necessity due to budget, but to the point that it feels a bit rushed. This is unfortunate, because so often low budget movies have the opposite problem: the film ends up close to full length, but mostly due to padded, unnecessary scenes and lack of editing. This, on the other hand, is a low budget independent film that needs to go on longer.

Too-brief running time aside, Red Hookers is a fantastic short film, especially considering that it was just the second project by Anzoategui and company, the first being Limerence, which was filmed in 2012 but not released until 2017. This one, weighing in around 18 minutes in length, is full of beautiful women, violent gore, and supernatural evil. It establishes the style that Astaroth Productions has become known for in their later work. If you like Lovecraftian horror, gore, or evil disguised by beauty, this is a highly recommended horror short.

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