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Red Kingdom Rising (2012)

Theatrical Poster #1
Fairy Tales & Legends, Horror, Supernatural Horror
Navin Dev Navin Dev
Emily Stride Emily Stride
David Caron David Caron
Silvana Maimone Silvana Maimone
Etalia Turnbull Etalia Turnbull
Wendy Battersbee Wendy Battersbee

5.8 / 10 - 1 vote

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Review by Chad
Added: April 21, 2012
I was recently contacted by Red Kingdom Rising director / writer Navin Dev, who asked if I'd like to check out his debut film. I get these sort of emails rather often, but nine times out of ten, I pass on them - I hate being obligated to review something that I probably have little interest in, and I really don't enjoy shitting on an indie guy's work. However, this particular email came with a trailer that showed a lot of promise, and the film was inspired by Alice in Wonderland, a world that I particularly enjoy, so I said what the hell and asked for a copy. I figured that the movie would do one of two things: blow me away, or let me down and remind me why I generally avoid these submissions. Well...

The story centers around Mary Ann (Emily Stride), a young lady who has been through a lot in her life and who returns home to visit her mother (Silvana Maimone) after her father (David Caron) dies. I'm going to put it lightly here and say that her overbearing Christian mother isn't taking it very well. Some things happen which I won't spoil here, and Mary Ann eventually finds herself in a dream world that is strikingly similar to the Alice in Wonderland world where the big question becomes "Is the Red King in my dream, or am I in his?" The Red King, for those not in the know, is the antagonist in the original story, but I don't quite recall him being this creepy and evil in the book. Mary Ann eventually finds a young girl named Alice (Etalia Turnbull) who attempts to lead her through this world and get her back to reality, but first, Mary Ann will have to take a trip through her own troubled past.

There are a lot of details that I am intentionally leaving out of this synopsis, as most of this movie really has to be experienced first hand in order for the viewer to truly "get" it. If I were to sit here and break down the storyline for you piece by piece, you'd probably avoid the movie... however, seeing it play out is infinitely more enjoyable than any words I could type about it. This is a surrealistic film that takes a classic children's story and turns it into something extremely dark and twisted, while also telling a story that is rooted in reality and deals with very adult themes. Again, one has to see it for themselves to truly grasp the numerous layers that make up this tale.

Honestly, "surreal" may be putting it lightly. Watching the film is almost like watching a legitimate dream unfold, but this dream actually has some deeper meaning and a cohesive plot to it. The overall story is dreamlike enough, but it's the little things that truly drive the point home: doorknobs will melt away, characters will completely change their natures in the blink of an eye, children with no faces will carry on conversations, clothing and settings change with no rational explanation, things like that. I loved the way this worked out, and it really made an already great film that much better.

As an added bonus, I thoroughly enjoyed the performances given by the two leading ladies. Emily Stride is an actress that I am not familiar with, but after seeing her here, I realize that this is a crying shame. This woman is a phenomenal actress, going through a wide range of emotions and handling them with ease. A lesser actress would have dragged this movie down, but she absolutely nailed it. Etalia Turnbull, a child who looks to be about twelve years old, was also damned good and quite endearing - this girl turned in a better performance than most adult actresses.

Keep an eye on this film. As of this writing, there are no planned screenings or DVD announcements, but I expect that to change as soon as word gets around and more people see it. This is a horror film that will scare you, freak you out, make you laugh, and make you cry... often just minutes apart from one another. Movies like this do not come along often, and I highly advise that you seek it out the second that it becomes available in some way. A perfect film, 10/10.
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