31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 11: Red White and Blue (2010)

This truly disturbing, bleak-as-fuck horror-drama was my first watch on Shudder UK. At 100 minutes, it took over 3 hours to watch because of beta shitness and constant stalling and buffering.

[MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW]

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Streaming snafus aside, perhaps that’s the perfect viewing environment to digest a movie as soul-scooping as Red White and Blue. From its opening silent montage of a promiscuous woman (Amanda Fuller)’s exploits set to dreamy piano cues, to its mood highs and lows, it’s an unpredictable, moving study of three people who are simultaneously monsters and victims.

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The fact that I only recognise one of the names in this cast either means I’m shit at watching films or the casting is deliberately low-key to mess with audience expectations. Or both. Or they couldn’t afford bigger names. Can you tell I’ve never made a movie?

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Speaking of whom, Noah Taylor is unrecognisable. Typically looking like the science camp child of Gary Oldman and Tim Burton, he cuts a menacing yet melancholic spectre of a figure, eyes bulging under a mop of long hair and beard. At the film’s given moment he’s equal parts sympathetic and inconstant. Hug him, but from a distance. Maybe with one of those spider-catchers on each hand.

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I’d rather not divulge plot details as I went in blind myself. We’re following these characters on some pretty grim journeys, and given that there are no reality-defying monsters to throw us any curve balls, my humble opinion is that you’re better off watching it uniformed to get each of the stories’ full impact.

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That said, prepare yourself for some violence. Not campy ’80s Troma, nor artful, Fulci, macro-photographed gore. And certainly not the Hostel-style torture-porn-butchery of disposable Abercrombie and Fitch patrons. This by turns both visceral and harrowing. You’ll feel for the characters as the film spends equal parts of its three acts developing them, through strong performances by Taylor, Amanda Fuller and Marc Senter, and careful, assured direction from Simon Rumley (who helmed the equally unsettling The Living and The Dead). And there are many uncomfortable moments as a result.

It’s a thought-wrenching, brutally raw headfuck of a tale. But do your well-being a favour and watch something light-hearted afterwards.

4.5/5

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