Starring: Henry Thomas, Kelli Garner
Directed By: Bruce Dickson
Written By: Anthony Burns
Red Velvet pushes the need for creativity in horror films. It does this through following the stories of a creative mind, a writer, Aaron (Thomas), who tries to impress another by the twisted story his mind thinks up on the spot. The stories we are given are the freshest and most fun part of the film as they take us in to an imaginative world of blood and slashing.
Aaron meets the neighbor he has heard through the thin walls, but never officially met before, Linda (Garner). Aaron really doesn’t want to be bothered, but Linda persists in talking to him. Although, the two don’t exactly hit it off, Aaron urges her to have lunch with him. She only agrees after she calls him chicken. Aaron tells Linda that he is a writer and she urges him to tell her a good story. Linda isn’t all that impressed with his childhood trauma story of an insane mother abusing him and eventually getting the fatal death she deserved or his story of their waitress having her head sautéed over a pan of stir fry. So Aaron figures he will make it a little more personal. Linda was supposed to go to her friend’s cabin for a birthday getaway. However, her abusive boyfriend didn’t want to go and wouldn’t let her use his car to go either. Aaron creates a story about what is going on in that cabin.
Linda chimes in when Aaron has a different perception of her friends than she knows them as. She also insists the killer not have the typical mask and disguise and proposes a pink tool belt. Aaron agrees to this as long as the killer also has bunny ear speakers and a camera attached to him that automatically takes the picture of his victims as they scream for their lives. Aaron proceeds to tell Linda how after all of their partying each of her friends die one after the other. Before the story is finished, Linda decides she needs to get back home to her boyfriend, and to find her apartment empty. She goes to Aaron furious that her boyfriend prevented her from seeing her friends and just abandoned her anyway. Aaron offers to go with her and take her to the party and Linda ends up expecting. He continues telling the story on the ride there. As they arrive, they notice things are far more quiet than they should be. To Linda’s horror, that story might not have been as fictional as she thought.
Henry Thomas definitely steals the show as Aaron. He’s a bit cynical with a dark set of humor and a mystery to him that is only touched by his sinister stories. Thomas has great presence and is more interesting to watch as the film goes on. Kelli Garner wasn’t quite able to match up to Thomas’ performance. At times her conviction fell flat. She wasn’t all that likeable as Linda. Her sassy sarcasm just makes her seem like a negative and hostile person. Some of this is in the character, but Garner was just never able to bring this to life in a realistic way.
Red Velvet makes great use of color, particularly in the “imaginary” world. The normal world looks very plain. Once we are taken in to the visuals of Aaron’s camping horror story, we are given bright, neon lighting that fills the atmosphere. It isn’t just for show though as it celebrates the two worlds and eventually collides between the two as the lines of reality and fantasy are blurred. The gore is pretty good throughout the film. The best comes from one of the teens getting sawed off as his entire body slowly gets hacked up in two pieces, splattering blood everywhere as his slimy insides ooze out. There’s a lot of changes and variations even in how some of the kills are set up between Aaron and Linda. Most start out as the more traditional slasher kills like the slaughtering after a couple having sex. Furthering the sluts must die principle, the girl eager to jump on the next guy she sees who she let watch her have sex, only to be killed herself a moment later. The changes that are made include two people falling in a 10 foot hole on the ground as they try to climb up by a rope, that happens to have a crocodile tied to it, inches away from falling in to hole and attacking those trying to get free. Some deaths aren’t quite as creative, but still funny. One includes the killer hammering a victim to death and quoting MC Hammer in a sarcastic and maniacal voice.
The film has dark humor and is a lot of fun. Some of the scenes between Aaron and Linda are long and somewhat drawn out. The dialogue is okay, but it becomes far more rich and fun in the story world. Things overall are a lot more fun than the arguing we get out of this world. It works to an extent though even if the story within the story was the most entertaining part. The set up, while it could have been a little shorter, was necessary. Many moments were actually quite clever and amusing, particularly those that pointed out clichés in the horror genre and a plight for inventiveness even through a seemingly innocent story. The merging of the two worlds was interesting, but the very ending seemed a little rushed and didn’t sit quite right. Overall, Red Velvet is an innovative horror film that has fun with its knowledge of the genre, even poking fun at it while still being imaginative.