Red (2008)

DVD Cover (Magnolia Pictures)
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An older, reclusive man's best friend and inspiration for living is his 14-year-old dog named "Red". When three troublesome teens kill the dog for no good reason, the grieving man sets out for justice and redemption by whatever means available to him. --IMDb
Brian Cox
Brian Cox
Noel Fisher
Noel Fisher
Kyle Gallner
Kyle Gallner
Shiloh Fernandez
Shiloh Fernandez
Kim Dickens
Kim Dickens
Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 10, 2008
There are a lot of Lucky McKee fans out there. As a director, he's been very elusive. "May" was pure genius and featured an astonishing performance from Angela Bettis. "The Woods" was his much anticipated follow-up that just couldn't live up to the hype. His Masters of Horror entry, "Sick Girl", showed much promise, but it's his latest film, "Red", that should have thrust him into the spotlight for good. I have no idea why it didn't. "Red" is an amazing piece of filmmaking and the kind of slow-paced thriller that Kubrick would have loved. "Red" is co-directed by the ever evolving McKee and it comes to us from a story by popular author Jack Ketchum.

The film opens with Avery Ludlow (Brian Cox) and his dog, Red, sitting by a river fishing. A group of three young boys come up on them and attempt to rob the aging man. When the boys realize the man doesn't have much for them to take, they shoot his dog in the head, make jokes about it and then leave. So begins "Red", one of the most haunting character studies in recent memory. Ludlow makes it his personal missions to get something, anything from the boys. The father of two of the boys, Michael McCormack (Tom Sizemore) doesn't believe Ludlow, or he does and just doesn't care. Either way, he does nothing. Ludlow consults an attorney and even brings the event to the attention of the local press, but nothing comes of it. Ludlow, determined to exact some justice on what happened to his beloved dog, sets on a course that will change many lives forever.

This is a film about principles and a film about justice. The character of Avery Ludlow is not simply someone who takes the law into his own hands. He doesn't want money. He doesn't want attention. As he tells another person in the film, he just wants 'honesty'. All he wants is for the boys to admit what they did, apologize and maybe have some minor punishment thrown their way. But it's not punishment he wants, it's honesty. By the time the end of the film rolls around and we've been slammed with brutal force, you have to wonder who's to blame? Is it the father of the boys for letting his sons literally get away with murder? Is it Ludlow, who just won't let up, even when the consequences of his actions might outweigh the initial offense? Is it the local reporter (Kim Dickens) who initially comes to Ludlow as a way of acquiring ratings and improving her career?

This is an impeccable performance from Brian Cox. He won't receive any Oscar attention whatsoever, but I don't see how another actor could deliver a performance this year with this much depth and emotion. Cox has one scene where he's explaining what happened to his wife and two children and the directors make the choice to stay on Cox the entire time. It's a wise move that pays off because you just can't turn away. I can't think of the last time I was that transfixed on a single shot for so long without blinking. Tom Sizemore turns in a nasty little turn as the father, and Robert Englund proves he's not just a one-note horror actor in a role as an abusive white trash husband. Horror vets Ashley Laurence and Richard Riehle pop up also. Overall, it's a fine ensemble, but it's Brian Cox who steals the show and carries the film.

What makes "Red" work is the idea that people should be responsible for their actions. Ludlow doesn't set out to cause what he eventually causes. But he won't stop until justice is served. His scene at the end of the film suggests at his disappointment over how things went down, but you see very little in the way of remorse. People must suffer the consequences of their actions at whatever cost. "Red" is one of the best films of the year and it might end up being my favorite. I plan on watching it several more times in the very near future and I encourage you to do so as well. Lucky McKee has given us a film of real depth and power. I can't wait to see what he gives us next and I hope it's at least half as incredible as "Red" was. 10/10.
Tristan #1: Tristan - added 11/10/2008, 11:35 PM
I love Jack Ketchum, and this movie looked great. Can't wait to check it out.
grain of sand #2: grain of sand - added 11/11/2008, 12:51 AM
I was putting off a viewing of this movie because I thought it miiiight just turn sour.
Thank goodness it surprised me with an emotionally wrenching story and some awesome performances by pretty much everyone in the cast.. I couldn't have been happier with the outcome either, a gripping revenge story with a heart.
Cryptorchild #3: Cryptorchild - added 11/13/2008, 01:36 PM
I've said it before but I am a HUGE Jack Ketchum fan. I have read and collected the vast majority of his work. Red was a great book and I was excited to hear it was going to produced onto film. The movie followed the book exactly. The acting was all top notch and everything in the book was brought to life brillantly. I LOVED the movie, it was all perfect. So far Jack Ketchum has been 3 for 3 with his books being made into films. Great review Meanie!
bluemeanie #4: bluemeanie - added 11/13/2008, 02:22 PM
Agreed on Jack Ketchum also. "The Girl Next Door" was fantastic and "The Lost" was far better than I anticipated. I also want to point out that "Red" was shot entirely on digital and it looks just fantastic. This is another one of those films that really shows just how amazing a film can look on digital, still maintaining that richness and fullness of film.
Chad #5: Chad - added 12/01/2008, 01:27 AM
I was in the same position as #2 up there - I skipped over this one on new release day because it sounded pretty sappy, regardless of who all was involved with it. Thank goodness meanie reviewed it and made me check it out... this is such a great movie, I can't believe it didn't get more attention than it did. Another vote for the "Best of" list, and an easy 10/10.
Chad #6: Chad - added 12/01/2008, 01:50 AM
Oh, but for the record, this really isn't a Lucky McKee film... he started it, but he quit or was fired (depending on who you ask) soon afterward and was replaced by Trygve Allister Diesen. I'm not sure about who did how much, but I know Angela Bettis was cast to play the reporter before McKee stepped out, so that right there is a pretty big chunk.
bluemeanie #7: bluemeanie - added 12/01/2008, 12:29 PM
From what I have read, most of the film had been completed before McKee stepped out. The shoot went on hiatus for six months and then returned with a different director. So most of the film seems to be McKee's.
Cryptorchild #8: Cryptorchild - added 12/01/2008, 02:31 PM
To be honest I didn't know Lucky McGee even had a part in directing this until I read the review. I'm still waiting for a McGee film to make up for The Woods. But again, I thought this movie was perfect. Even more so when you're a fan of the book.
Tristan #9: Tristan - added 12/07/2008, 11:28 AM
Being a huge Jack Ketchum fan, I couldn't wait to see this one. I was very, very impressed. Easily in my top 5 movies of the year.

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