I honestly had no idea what to expect going in to “Red, White & Blue” mainly because Simon Rumley’s horror thriller is an animal that’s impossible to peg down. It’s a character study, a thriller, a romance, a drama, and a slasher movie all rolled in to one little package of pure excellence that takes a long time to really roll. I admittedly found myself impatient and restless while watching, but for horror fans expecting an all out balls to the wall gore fest, patience is your best friend. You’ll thank yourself later.
“Red, White & Blue” takes its time and is in no hurry to unleash its carnage upon the audience, thus it works as a character study. Rumley leaves nothing to the imagination offering up the back stories of three tortured souls, all of whom clash in a way that is tragic and most unfortunate. Once the revenge hook is set in to motion, Rumley’s film is an unflinching and brutally uncomfortable little slasher torture film that relies on its characters to really sell their motivations, however horrible they may be. Erica is a gorgeous woman who spends her days cleaning up the boarding house she lives in to avoid paying rent, and spends her nights clubbing and looking for any man to sleep with. On her days off she sits in playgrounds watching kids play and offers them toys and gestures of kindness all for her own small bit of happiness.
Erica has a rule that she never sleeps with one man twice, and she keeps their pictures in her album as trophies, living and wallowing in her sadness and always going back to the first picture of her book of an older man that’s centered in a page on his own. Nate, a Southern gentleman with an unkempt and mysterious life style catches the attention of Erica who refuses to sleep with him, in spite of his generous deeds toward her including paying her rent and offering her a shoulder to lean on. Nate is of course the animal in his cage waiting to be unleashed as he reveals details about her that is most unsettling. Erica nonetheless seeks his companionship, and the two form an unlikely bond that finally breaks her spirit and prompts a confession.
Franki is an optimistic young rock and roller who just got a record deal and discovered his ailing mother is now in remission from Cancer. The problem is he’s just learned he has HIV, and his one night escapade has come back to bite him and the only solution he can think of is to find the source of his disease and make her pay. What begins as a mere act of passion and anger, slowly progresses in to carnage and all out blood shed as Erica is faced with her misdeeds, Franki has to come to grips with his own crime of passion that he and his band mates have gone in on, and Nate is surely looking to help Erica out when the shit hits the fan.
Rumley’s film takes a very long time to develop, offering a snail’s pace, and dramatic first half that will leave many audiences wondering when we’ll start seeing some scares or bloodshed, but Rumley transforms his film about connections through blood and unfortunate victims in to a stalk and slash narrative piece by piece offering up the caged animal to take part in his own acts of reparations, and Franki’s own dealings with his acts of anguish and confrontation with karma that seeps in to his life inch by inch. In spite of Rumley’s preference to keep “Red, White & Blue” something of a dramatic piece first, his film is no doubt a horror film to the core reliant on the classic devices of fate, karma, revenge, and blood shed, all set to the tone of coincidence, tragedy, and destiny.
Once Nate is out on the prowl, no one will be spared, and Rumley provides some truly grotesque and uneasy forms of punishment while also putting in display excellent performances by the entire cast, specifically Noah Taylor whose own sense of moral justice and insanity will keep viewers squirming in their seats and riveted all the way through. Rumley’s horror revenge film is a masterpiece, and one that will be most appealing to the high brow horror fans. Simon Rumley’s “Red, White & Blue” is a slow boil revenge horror film with a classic moral of an eye for an eye for an eye with themes of fate, tragedy, and mental distress set to the tune of gore, mutilations, and a bonafide maniac unleashed on hapless victims of a one night stand. It’s a masterful movie, and one I highly recommend. Red White & Blue is available to order on-demand through your local cable subscribers as part of IFC Midnight release.