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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Review: Red Handed

Director: Frank Peluso
Screenplay: Frank Peluso
Year: 2019

The opening scene of a movie is usually the moment when the attention of the viewer is either won or lost; where it is decided if the time investment is worth it. The opening scene in “Red Handed”, previously known as “Children of Moloch” presents a description of the demon Moloch and the tributes that the Canaanites offered him to ensure a good harvest season. This is the spot when it loses any element of surprise and makes its plot predictable.

After their father’s death, three brothers reunite close to a river to disperse his ashes in that area. While in the river, the son of one of them is abducted, which leads one of them to remember that he had also been abducted in that same area when he was a child but had blocked all the memories from that event. Now he must relieve this event to be able to find the clues that will help them save the abducted child.

“Red Handed” has been promoted as a horror movie, but it’s far from being one. It is better classified as a drama with some dark themes that are maybe inspired in horror cinema, but never crossing the line for becoming a movie in this genre and is even hard to classify it as a thriller as any attempt of making it so is ruined in the opening scene. As a consequence, the development feels slow and the resolution flat.

The script from also director Frank Peluso in his debut in both roles crafts a plot that develops in a slow burn and largely depends on the acting. Since there is little surprise in the movie, the plot feels slower than it should, so much so that it gets to be hard to follow. Luckily the acting carries the movie with good interpretation from Owen Burke (“The Equalizer”), Ryan Carnes (“The Phantom” mini series), and Christian Madsen (“Divergent”) as the three brothers and the cameos from Michael Biehn (“Aliens”) and Michael Madsen (“Kill Bill”), as the uncle and father of the brothers, respectively. 

In the cinematography, the rural surroundings where the plot takes place are well used and its natural beauty and sense of desolation are emphasized. Where the budget limitations show up is in the bad editing process, which has some sequence issues that the most distracted of viewers will notice, as well as parts where it seems like the audio and images were used from different shots and they are not well aligned. 

"Red Handed" has more flaws than hits in target and unlucky for the debuting director and screenwriter, they greatly affect the quality of the movie. The biggest of these flaws is the initial explanation that ruins any surprise element or suspense that is tried to be developed during its development. The premise of the plot is interesting and it has good acting, but its slow development and lack of surprise weights more.

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