The Red Man, 2016.
Directed by Jimmie Gonzalez.
Starring Daniel David Diamond, Daniel Faraldo, Micheal O’Neal, Lindsey Naves and Charissa Saverio.
Troubled by a violent incident from his past, popular DJ Evan is plagued by recurring nightmares which show his family being violently murdered. In an attempt to find help, Evan consults his psychiatrist Dr Verde in the hope that he can recover from this trauma and finally lead a normal life. However, Evan soon begins to suspect that there might be something shady going on with his doctor and finds that he might just be at the centre of a sinister and violent conspiracy. Or is it all just another product of Evan’s troubled mind?
I’ve reviewed a good few films for my overlords here at the Flickering Myth, most of them horror films and now I feel that I’ve sort of become one of the site’s go to “horror guy”. Every so often, though, they entrust me to watch a film that’s just a little bit different from the usual horror fare, which brings me to the subject of today’s review, The Red Man, a dark psychological horror/drama that might just be one of the most curious films I’ve ever reviewed.
The acting from our leading man, the wonderfully named Daniel David Diamond, is excellent as Evan, the tormented soul whose world we take a dive into. Diamond expertly portrays a successful and popular man, but one who is unable to enjoy the pleasures that such fame brings and constantly haunted by events from his past. Diamond’s terrific performance ensures that we root for Evan throughout, eager to see him get to the bottom of the mystery taking over his life.
Also on fine form is veteran actor Daniel Faraldo as Dr Verde, a character which often veers from a caring psychiatrist to scenery chewing villain, complete with a pretty over the top and funny villain monologues. Falraldo is at his best when he’s switched the evil switch and clearly having great fun with this aspect of his character.
The film is stylish in its visuals and its sound design. We have weird dream sequences of faceless naked people in a white room running towards a door, a door which changes colour with every new dream, all scored with very disorienting electronic music. We also have a truly odd, and slightly funny (if you’re immature like me), moment on a bus in which Evan witnesses one woman pleasure another, all the while making strange deafening beat box sounds. The whole film is just a nice little cauldron of weird moments like these.
There is also a noticeable emphasis in many scenes on colour, with red of course being the key recurring visual motif throughout, often used blatantly with red walls, red doors and red lighting, but also with a clever degree of subtlety such as a red kettle. Although with that last one, I’m not sure if it’s a deliberate visual motif, or if I’m overanalyzing the film a bit much, which brings me to my next point the plot, or whatever it is.
Truthfully, I cannot clearly describe what this film is about in any concrete terms, with the synopsis above being the best I can do without explaining everything that happens in the film, a task which I couldn’t do anyway; quite simply I still can’t figure out what this film is really about, and I think that’s kind of the point.
The film managed to fool me with regards to its plot developments, with it initially seeming like Evan’s doctor will give him pills and that will make him a murderer, but that doesn’t seem to happen. Instead, the film seemingly turns into a conspiracy thriller about pharmaceuticals and occult societies, seemingly taken from the wet dream of Alex Jones (the crazy fat American one, not the friendly Welsh one who does The One Show).
But not even that plot description as the story of the film, might not even be happening at all; instead it might simply be a tale about a mentally ill man and his paranoid delusions brought on by the death of his family, or maybe something else entirely. The film doesn’t give you any answers and it doesn’t give you any help in finding them.
The film is also probably not for those of the faint of heart, mainly because it does have a few fairly unpleasant moments, with it’s opening minutes featuring family murder and what looks like necrophilia. A particular scene which certainly made me feel unpleasant is a POV scene in which the killer murders a woman with, to put it carefully, an invasive device.
The Red Man is a very difficult film to give a verdict on, mainly because it was so unusual and different from what I’ve written about before. The surreal nature of things and the constantly changing plot certainly kept me watching throughout, and while the pace slows at times, I still kept me engaged. This film won’t be for everyone, people who like a film which makes them really think about it after watching, will probably like it. Those hoping for a neat tidy plot where everything is wrapped up nicely at the end; you should probably look somewhere else.
Check out The Red Man if you’re curious, it’ll certainly make you think long after the credits roll. Mainly though it’ll make you think “What the hell did I just watch?”
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★