Thursday, September 03, 2020

Red Sunset Drive – review

Director: Thor Moreno

Release date: 2019

Contains spoilers

Apparently, this started life as a novel, which I am not sighted on and so I came in cold as it were. Mixing the paranormal and cop procedural we end up with cops chasing a serial killer, with vampirism and mediumship thrown in for good measure.

Unfortunately, whatever the mix, this struggled – the primary characters were almost entirely unsympathetic and there wasn’t enough scope within the acting on display to make them interesting enough to follow without that sympathy.

So we start off with a homeless guy (Zack Williams, I think) and then cut to a woman, Darcy (Stephanie Schneider), who is looking around and then something swoops at her (we don’t see it). She runs into what may have been the well-lit covered entrance to a parking garage and get a reaction shot from the homeless guy as she screams.

Kurt Oberhaus as O'Shea

Brett O’Shea (Kurt Oberhaus) gets a call and heads out to a crime scene. At the scene he meets his new partner Detective Randall (Justin Marxen) and the body of Darcy is covered with a sheet (the medical examiner has already seen the corpse). Now the location was in an overgrown piece of land with disused rail tracks. Later many of the kills are moved, true, but there is no suggestion she has been, indeed it is close to her home and the homeless guy shows up in the scene (so he knew where she was) – but this isn’t the city street/alley she was killed in. A missing suggestion that she was moved or a location faux pas – you decide.

Justin Marxen as Randall

O’Shea reckons that its an O.D. but the homeless guy appears and says it wasn’t that at all – as she didn’t do that sort of thing. He describes a birdman attacking her but his story is dismissed. Back at the station, O’Shea tells the police chief (Jason Rainwater) they have no solid leads but the chief thinks there might be connection with another kill – both women were prostitutes. A well-connected citizen John Allen (James Serpento) has been calling for O’Shea and he is ordered to make contact. Comment is made of O’Shea smelling of booze.

Keyna Reynolds as Lisa

We get a moment with O’Shea getting home and his girlfriend Lisa (Keyna Reynolds) waiting for him. She tells him about an interview she has for a job… in another city. She suggests he could move with her but he decides that she has thrown the relationship out of kilter altogether – this reaction made him immediately unsympathetic (there was no attempt to talk through, or even force her to stay, it was immediately over), not that she was any more sympathetic as a character as she re-emerged through the film. Indeed the dialogue between the characters and the story was not strong at all and therefore the entire thing, which might have added a human element to the cop character, was poor.

Michael & O'Shea

When O’Shea goes to see John Allen, he tells the cop that a vampire (MJ Gazali) is loose. That he got access to a indigenous burial ground, to look for artefacts, and was shocked to find a tomb. The vampire connection was made as the tomb had inscriptions in Romanian. O’Shea is dismissive and Allen asks about Michael (Shawn McAninch)… O’Shea’s lack of incredulity at this point was telling retrospectively. Back in his car, Michael is there and we discover that Michael is his great-grandfather – a cop in his time – and O’Shea can see dead folks (until part way through the film it is just Michael he can see but this changes).


So the film goes on with O’Shea on a drunk, Randall revealed to be a sexual sadist barred from the local brothel, more killings and the reluctant acceptance that there is a vampire (and his collected minions) on the loose. However, as a viewer I was woefully under-invested. The unsympathetic characters, the poor dialogue (which aped, rather than felt of, the police procedural) and even things like the sound of a gun going off being out of sync with the trigger squeezes.

stake flash

The primary vampire lore (beyond flight – bodies are found that seem to have been dropped and broken trees on their way down) is that they are fast but can be killed via the good old stake to the heart (they die in a blinding flash). Other than that this is a really plodding, uninspiring piece with a decent dose of saccharine where it comes to resolving the primary character’s relationship. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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