RED KINGDOM RISING
Here it is my new review it’s for a brand new film from director Navin Dev and it’s called “Red Kingdom Rising”. Navin has made a few short films but this is his first full length feature. I have followed the films imdb page for the better part of 12 months, after having seen a really cool teaser trailer and now it’s finally here! It’s a mix of “Pan’s Labyrinth” meets “Alice In Wonderland”. Red Kingdom Rising explores the human psyche and repressed memories that manifest themselves through obscure imagery and dark dreams revolving around a young women named Mary Ann.
Mary Ann (played by Emily Stride) is a young school teacher that’s having trouble getting by in day-to-day life. She is being plagued by terrifying and vivid dreams relating to a traumatic event from her past. She is dreaming about a mythical place called The Red Kingdom. With some advice from Esther (a therapist/friend of sorts), Mary Ann heads back to the house she grew up in to see her recluse mother and try to gain some answers in the hopes of moving on with her life.
Firstly, the screenplay is a really interesting take on something that we have seen before in the aforementioned films. It’s both written and directed by Navin and he really knows what he is doing behind the camera and from a technical point of view. The audio and camera work in the film is leaps and bounds above anything else being produced on this kind of budget. I’m not sure what the budget on this one is but the production values are fantastic. Navin utilizes minimal locations and a small cast/crew, which of course is the best way to cut down on the budget. The dialogue is crisp and loud and the camera work is very personal with some smooth editing and transitioning between scenes.
Navin also manages to capture some truly eerie sound effects and a great piano based score which I quiet liked. This is more of a slow-burn style of filmmaking in the way that it doesn’t reply on cheap thrills or lots of effects. However, I will make mention of some of the cool practical blood and makeup effects because they were pretty good. It’s all very surreal visually so you never really know what’s a memory and what is a manifestation. The film’s strongest aspect though is the main 3 cast members, all females and are all very good. The standout however is Emily, I don’t know if she has had any past experience but the film’s success rests on her shoulders and she is wonderful in the role. With a short snappy running time of just 70 minutes RKR never feels like it’s running out of steam.
I can’t say to many bad things about the film given the amount of experience from those involved and the budget, it’s a successful project. I do think some of the lighting needed a bit of work, especially during the night scenes. It’s a little dark here and there with a few shadows inside the house. The scenes with her mother in the first half probably needed more prominent visualization. I think the film also misses the mark a little bit in the suspense department. I found the film to be less about scares and horror and more about the psyche and the way we deal with the bad experiences in our lives. There is nothing wrong with that storytelling but I think the idea for the film could have been marketed a little better to save confusion.
I found Etalia Turnball who played Alice to be a little over the top too. She is only a very young actress so I still think she was solid but some of the dialogue and annunciation needed a bit of work so her delivery wasn’t so inconsistent. Ultimately the only thing that disappointed me about the film though was that I found it to be very predictable. I don’t think everyone will share the same opinion as me but I quickly figured out the meaning of the Red King and he’s kingdom and pretty much the representation of the entire film. Obviously it’s made to be understood the deeper meaning, but I would have prefered it to have been a reveal late in the film and not so early.
Overall I really enjoyed Red Kingdom Rising. It was very reminiscent of a film I saw a while back called “The Silent House”. Mix that together with some Del Toro esq visuals and Tim Burton’s sound effects and you have RKR. Like I said, given the budget and experience this is a great little flick and from a technical view-point you are quiet a talent Navin. I would definitely recommend this to those people who like these types of films. However, the predictable nature might make it a little bland upon multiple viewings. Well done Navin and Co!
My rating for “Red Kingdom Rising” is 6/10