Red Rage

****

Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Red Rage
"There are whiffs of genius here, though mostly in the parts and the small details, rather than the big picture."

Well that was different. Disturbing. Also, very funny.

The film is Red Rage. Or maybe Red Devil. Nothing about it is quite what you expected. Including the title, which seems to have mutated from the first to the second at some point between the original press going out and IMDB catching up with it. Or vice-versa.

Copy picture

Look: don't ask me! I'm not the publicist. But it does mean that, to dig deeper, you need to know both.

As for Red - Rage or Devil: take your pick! - it is what you might get if Sergio Leone made a western about bad people dealing in psychotropic drugs. While taking psychotropic drugs. Or Tarantino, for that matter.

Because there are whiffs of genius here, though mostly in the parts and the small details, rather than the big picture.

For Red Devil is very much, as the blurb puts it, “an intertwining tale of sex, drugs, rock and woe”. And what sex!

What drugs for that matter! Central to the plot is a new drug called ‘Red Devil’. One hit and you're hooked. So now, addicts like Riley (Jamie Crew) roam the mean streets (so mean! So mean!) searching desperately for their next hit.

Meanwhile, inspired by a visit from God Hi'self, vigilante couple Oscar (Jack Turner) and Ella (Fernanda Diniz) embark on a crusade to take the drug dealers off the streets. Also, and incidentally, to find and save William: Oscar's brother and an addict.

What, though, has all this to do with old-style dealer Hugo (Ian Reddington), the bearded, geeky stoner who tries to maintain standards in the narcotics world by dealing only in green, in weed? Will his mellow cannabis combo save the day? Can his befeathered, stetson-wearing, new best friend and gunslinger Gabriel (Matt Lapinskas) protect him from the savagery that lurks beyond his chill paradise?

Except this is no Leone Western, marked by wide vistas and breadth of scenery. Rather, it is something narrow, constricted, shut in on itself. Much of the action takes place in confined spaces – a club, a bar, a dealer's den. Though now and then there are hints at something bigger: mostly, it is true, when Director Savvas D Michael slips into pastiche mode and we watch as one or other of our 'cowboy' heroes makes their move on a villain.

So far, so ordinary! Except nothing about this film is ordinary. From the dialogue to the more than slightly blasphemous approach to theology, through to a most wondrous use of music – so much you'll almost recognise! - and staging. Everything is about-face. Everything is upside down and not quite right.

Take Oscar and Ella: a butter-wouldn't-melt-in-their-mouths-duo who in other circumstances you might mistake for a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses on call. Or Mormons. Other circumstances...like when Ella is not driven to erotic ecstasy by the thought of killing a drug-dealer. Or when smiling husband Oscar does not go along with this by fucking her openly, brazenly, as they first hold up, then assassinate the dealers.

That is, as far as I am aware, a near film first: the simultaneous murder-orgasm!

Take Oscar, kneeling in church and praying, with beatific smile atop his lips, to his God:

“Some might say you owe me...”

“Anyway, must dash...have your work to do!” This man left sanity behind miles ago. Yet no-one seems to have noticed or to care.

The Satan-worshipping middle-aged woman who denies her drug addict son in his hour of need: “I told you not to call me that [mum]: call me Queen Beelzebub like everyone else!”

The priest, bishop, whatever, counting out money while guarded by gun-toting vicars: “I'm sure God is so happy you killed so many people...”

But: “You can't keep on killing people. It's not normal.”

And also: "A scandal like this could hurt your reputation amongst the middle classes."

This is, depending on your perspective, either hilarious or appalling. You'll love it or click off in disgust.

Though for those who stay with it, there is maybe something deeper going on. Centre stage are all the excuses we create to do the things we want, anyway. Angels and saints, we call them. And God. When maybe it all boils down to the fact we can't live without whatever our own peculiar addiction happens to be.

Is Riley, in the end, the most honest person out there?

One highlight, one lowlight. The first comes in the form of acting treasure Steven Berkoff, popping up mid-film as a sort of social commentator/explainer. And yes: Berkoff's character is called Lazarus. Make of that what you will, in a film peppered with religious reference. I had never encountered the word “peccancy” before I viewed this film, had no idea what it meant. But apparently it means “sinfulness”. That is important. Probably.

Also, Berkoff seems to be a regular within Savvas's oeuvre. Which some might consider a mark of respect, quality.

The lowlight? That in the beginning, at least, the plot is messy. Messy enough that for a brief moment I pondered staying with the film. But slowly it comes together, gels, and by the end I was very glad I didn't bail.

This is very much a film that divides viewers. On IMDB it scores a low average, as much because scores dropped so far alternate between 9 and 10, and 1 or 2.

I consider myself firmly in the first camp. This is a funny, thoughtful, exhilarating romp of a film and I loved it.



Red Rage will be available on DVD & Digital Download from 12th April and can be pre-ordered here.

Reviewed on: 08 Apr 2021
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Red Rage packshot
A murderous vigilante couple tear through the city, serving vengeance to dealers of a new designer drug called Red Devil.

Director: Savvas D Michael

Writer: Savvas D Michael

Starring: Fernanda Diniz, Jack Turner, Adam Deacon, Steven Berkoff, Ian Reddington, Vas Blackwood

Year: 2019

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

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