There is no doubt when watching a film by Director Simon Rumley that the man has a penchant for the horror genre. With film titles such as The ABCs of Death and The Living and the Dead, Rumley is well established as a macabre storyteller. His 2010 film Red, White and Blue is about an emotionally damaged woman with HIV facing terrifying consequences when she becomes the focus of a deranged former Army interrogator and an emotionally unstable young man. It differs from his previous creations in that the ‘horror’ is mostly psychological, for both the audience and the characters. Blood lust fans, do not despair, there is plenty of violence and gore in this gruesome story of misguided love, sex and vengeance. Its delivery, however, is a crescendo of brutality rather than an immediate and constant assault on the senses.
While the film revolves around three emotionally damaged individuals and the violent collision of their lives, it centers on Erica, a promiscuous young woman who spends her nights trawling bars in search of men she can bed. The first few scenes of the film clearly lay the foundation for what the audience can expect when Erica participates in a sex orgy with a group of young men. While her debauchery continues throughout the film, it is the arrival of Nate and his determination to break through her detached persona that allows the audience to finally see her vulnerability and desperation. Even with Nate’s contrasting dark and brooding personality, the pair form a strong emotional bond built on a savage and impassioned desire for revenge.
The third player in the story is Franki, a fiery young man who longs to be a rock star. At the prime of his life, he is dealing with the emotional turmoil of a terminally ill mother. Through Franki, the audience discovers Erica is HIV positive and has infected Franki during their one night together. This horrific revelation and the associated stress and grief of recently losing his mother causes the destruction of Franki’s emotional stability. He successfully convinces his friends to help him kidnap Erica, sending Nate on a murderous rampage to find her.
Marc Senter’s performance of Franki takes a while to warm up, but by the end the audience is appropriately conflicted in their feelings for this fragile and traumatized kid. Jon Michael Davis gives a brief but strong performance as Ed, the head-strong yet compassionate friend of Franki and the only apparently sensible (and possibly sane) character in the film. It is, however, Noah Taylor’s performance as Nate, the psychotic former Army Interrogator that leaves the audience reeling and more than a little unsettled. Taylor, who has built a career on playing lovable geeks, completely transforms himself to deliver a performance so terrifying, it is hard not to cover your eyes during his scenes.
Red, White and Blue is definitely not a film for the faint-hearted. It is a darkly powerful film which shines a nebulous light on the impact of casual sex and HIV in western society, while still maintaining the shock and awe of a modern slasher film.
Review By Erin Hetherington