Anthony Brownrigg - Jim
Arianne Martin - Victoria
Edward Landers - Carl
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Running Time - 89 Minutes
Score - 3.5 Howls Outta 4
During my lifetime, I plan on writing a horror novel and/or a horror film that will make people shit their pants. It's gonna be suspenseful. It's gonna be memorable. And it'll sure be damn bloody! But you can't just go on and write something horrific. You need inspiration. You need a muse that will lead you to that dark place where evil things grow [similar to Paris Hilton's vagina]. It could be a childhood trauma. It could be a phobia. It could be a hot dead chick who wants to make it with you on your king size water bed after she murders your friends. It's different for everybody.
For Jim in RED VICTORIA, his muse happens to be that dead girl I mentioned in the last paragraph. Some people may say that Jim is crazy to be inspired by a smartass zombie with a fetish for death. But I say that Jim did right by Victoria because RED VICTORIA is a rare example of a horror-comedy that works.
Jim (Anthony Brownrigg) is an uptight writer who is failing in selling scripts in the drama genre. His agent advises Jim to change gears and write a horror script because good or bad, any studio will film it. Jim refuses, feeling that horror is beneath him. Besides, Jim knows nothing about horror. But to keep paying his bills and maintaining his agent, Jim gives in.
Having a rough day with writer's block and lack of inspiration, Jim gets drunk and starts reciting Shakespeare. This magically creates a muse - a sexy homicidal zombie named Victoria (Arianne Martin). Freaked out and thinking he's crazy, he attempts to seek help from his psychiatrist. But before he can get any answers, Victoria murders him and anyone in her way of getting Jim to write some good horror. When Jim's horror fanatic buddy, Carl (Edward Landers), can also see Victoria, Jim wonders what's going on. With Victoria's and Carl's help, Jim attempts in writing a great horror script. But Jim wants to get rid of Victoria, even if it kills him.
RED VICTORIA is a pleasant surprise from the world of low-budget Indie Horror. It's not really a horror film in the traditional sense, nor is it a comedy in the traditional sense. But something about the combination works in the film's favor, creating a memorable experience.
The story written by Anthony Brownrigg [who also produced, directed, and starred] is pretty smart and somewhat original. With a limited amount of characters, the story moves quickly and we get time with each character to see them develop. Jim, in particular, gives the film a ton of perspective. Here's a guy who doesn't get horror and constantly mocks it because he feels it's beneath him. But once Victoria constantly annoys him, he falls into the horror traps like plotting her demise on hallowed ground, using mythical daggers on Halloween, and so on. It proves the point that writing horror isn't about scaring people. We have to know what's scary before we can scare anyone else. Jim constantly fights this because he doesn't want to be vulnerable and be part of something he may not be able to recover from. It's humanistic in a fantasy realm and many horror writers forget that. Brownrigg doesn't and it helps build RED VICTORIA into a success.
The other main character, being Victoria, is also developed extremely well. We're never sure how she died or why she's really trying to help Jim, but her presence is the catalyst that breaks Jim's walls down. Jim and Victoria are really two sides of the same coin. While Jim likes control and keep his thoughts and feelings to himself, Victoria is the total opposite. She murders people because it's fun. She manipulates Jim because she can. While she's aware of the consequences, Victoria just doesn't care. Victoria also represents the woman Jim needs in his life, as she's the only one who is able to get him to open up in some fashion. They balance each other out and Jim is scared that someone can see right through him, leading to their constant back-and-forth battle.
And then we have Carl, who is pretty much Jim and Victoria put together. He's the big horror fan, reminding Jim and the viewers on the horror rules and what weapons are acceptable or not. Horror fans will relate to him right away, creating a nice in-between guy for us to latch onto.
The dialogue is also great too. The characters sound like real people, dead or not, and don't say things just for the sake of saying them. Each of their words carry meaning. Even the things they don't say are quite powerful. Brownrigg wrote a great piece of literature here, proving that horror can be smart and effective.
Brownrigg also directed the film, which he did a very nice job with. Even with a budget of only $5000, Brownrigg managed to reveal his vision wonderfully. The pacing is quick and the editing is spot-on. The film looks cheap but the cinematography is beautiful, with the framing and composition shots looking extremely professional. The music captured the mood and atmosphere well throughout. Even the special effects are extremely cool, looking better than most big budgeted blockbusters out there. Brownrigg made this film look like a million bucks with his drive and hard work. I would like to see what he could do with a much bigger budget if he can do incredible work with such a small one.
The acting was fantastic. Brownrigg is the star of the film as Jim and carries the film on his back from beginning to end. He's a natural as a struggling writer and I'm sure he took some of his past experiences and brought them into the character of Jim. He had a great sense of playing the nervous time, translating his insecurities and fears on screen. No complaints. Edward Landers as Carl was pretty funny and extremely likeable. But the star here is Arianne Martin as Victoria. She was charming, off-beat in an alluring way, and very hot. She and Brownrigg played off each other extremely well, creating a nice chemistry that captured your attention whenever they were on screen. The makeup job on her could have been a little better, but Martin worked it like a charm.
The DVD also contains a blooper reel, deleted scenes, and behind the scenes stuff. While they don't enhance the experience all that much, they're nice to have and all worth watching at least once if you're interested.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE QUESTIONING MY STANCE ON NECROPHILIA
- Jim tried to find his horror muse by attempting to scare himself with his own reflection in the mirror. That only works if you're Michael Jackson or Joan Rivers, pal!
- If you want an undead muse to help with your writing, recite Macbeth while intoxicated in front of a clock. Remember: If you're lost, she can look and she will find you - time after time. If you fall, she will catch you - she will be waiting - time after time.
- The pool guy felt like a fool over constantly coming by to clean the leaves in Jim's pool. I guess like the rest of us, even pool guys are drowning for respect.
- Jim used bullets, a pentagram, voodoo, and even garlic to get rid of Victoria to no avail. Just like Paris Hilton and her crabs, Victoria is impossible to get rid of.
- Jim was upset when a friend of his was splattered by an oncoming bus in the middle of the street. I don't know why. Hello Jim, there's a song that we're singing. C'mon get happy!
- Victoria doesn't mind being asked questions but refuses to answer them. She must have been a Miss USA Contestant in a past life. I'd like to see her thoughts on health care!
THE FINAL HOWL
I enjoyed the hell out of RED VICTORIA. Subtle, clever, and entertaining - this has to be one of the best indie horror flicks I've seen in quite some time. It has a great script, great acting, blood, guts, and a hot undead chick - what more do you want from a horror film? Definitely worth a look if you're looking for inspiration that good horror still exists out there.