Two neighbors from an apartment complex run into each other at the local Laundromat, Aaron and Linda, end up spending the day together getting lunch and doing laundry. After finding out that storytelling is Aaron's thing, Linda asks him to tell a story. He decides to tell her a special story, one about the birthday party with her friends and family that she happens to be missing at the time. Though, Aaron takes the story in a dark and twisted direction by having a masked killer in a white jumpsuit and a pink toolbelt join the party, and starts picking the guests off one by one in gruesome ways. Unfortunately for Linda, the tale of a birthday bloodbath may or may not be just a story.
Amy: "You sick fuck!"
Killer: "Actually, I feel fine. How about you?"
The people behind "Red Velvet" have claimed the movie as being a "sexy stylish horror film." The first time watching the trailer and going through the image gallery on the movie's official web site, you could definitely tell that this really was going to be a movie with style. What else are you suppose to think when one of the images that you see for a movie has a guy in a ski mask with a lit candle on his head and melted wax running down it? Given that, I knew this was a movie I had to see since what it looked like was a horror movie taking place inside the head of an eclectic artist.
As odd as it may seem, that's actually what "Red Velvet" is, or at least part of the story is anyway. You are essentially given two movies: one is about two people who live in the same apartment building, running into each other at a laundromat, while the other is about a killer crashing a birthday party out in the woods. Our main characters, Aaron (Henry Thomas) and Linda (Kelli Garner), end up having to spend the day together because of dirty laundry, and instead of continuing to annoy one-another, Aaron tells Linda a story. A horror story about a group of young-adults getting together at an isolated cabin in the woods to celebrate the birthday of one of their friends, based around a real party and real friends that Linda was suppose to meet but couldn't.
So, while there are two different movies going on, each movie is in its own genre. The story that Aaron is telling, of a typical 80's slasher of a masked killer picking off party goers while they delve deeper into their acts of debauchery. Naturally, that covers the horror part of "Red Velvet". The other part, of Aaron and Linda interacting with each other, cover's the comedy aspect. Of course there is comedy included in the horror portion, but really a lot of the humor comes from Aaron (an obvious recluse who doesn't like people) and the general interaction he and Linda have. Thankfully there is a great chemistry between the actors really helps to sell this situation and allows for their beginning relationship of petulant sarcasm to be highly amusing and entertaining.
The other side of "Red Velvet", the horror part, is what really won me over and is what will definitely win over most of the audience. Not simply because it's the horror part of the movie and it's being watched by horror fans, it's because of how stylized they were able to make it and pull it off. The setup is very much in the style of any 80's slasher movie, which is understandable since it's only suppose to be a story within a story. So it actually gives "Red Velvet" free reign to do what it wants to and get away with what wouldn't normally sit well in a standard horror movie. It also allows the characters telling the story to rib the horror genre in general. Which may or may not break it for some people, as it's not a direct spoof of horror movies, but it does parody them a bit that not only helps the story but the humor as well. As for the actual style itself; god was this movie refreshing. Instead of just going with typical color filter slapped on the lens of a steady-cam. The people behind the camera actually take things back a bit and draw inspiration from Italian movies, not just with something like "Suspiria", but the older Italian gothic movies from the 70's. It uses colors like red, blue, and green to light the scenes, or in some cases uses all three at the same time. Match that with some really dynamic camera work and what you get is a movie that becomes a real treat for the eyes, and not only that but a visually unique piece of work as well. While some of the inspirations are obvious, the fact remains that nobody makes movies like this anymore and that's what really helps to give "Red Velvet" its presence and really stand out in the crowd of a genre that is filled with bland filmmaking.
While "Red Velvet" is a horror movie, it isn't looking to scare the audience, it accepts the fact that because of how desensitized the audience is it is harder to scare them. So it approaches at being more of an entertaining horror movie rather than going for cheap jump scares, and it works. Which is good, because it makes it easier to go back in for repeated viewings, which is what you need to do too fully appreciate the movie. Because of how clever the overall story is and how well it's pulled off, your first viewing will be a completely different experience from your second. Since the movie is about a character telling a story, you'll begin to notice and catch things going on within the movie that give subtle hints to the characters and both stories, that will go unnoticed from the first time you watch it.
Overall, "Red Velvet" was a great viewing experience because of everything it brought to the table, and manages to make it all work. With it's story that doesn't try to outsmart the audience with ridiculous plot twists, but doesn't think they're so dumb that everything needs to be explained, rather it allows the audience to put the pieces together as the movie progresses. It's a movie that doesn't take it's self too seriously, but doesn't get to silly with it's parody elements, but does have it's tongue planted firmly in it's cheek. It isn't even afraid to go over-the-top with it's gory death scenes of severed heads flying, high blood spray, to even having a person getting sawn in half (vertically) with one of those old fashion tree logging saws. Even though it's over-the-top, it still works quite well with the rest of the movie, and if anything, it helps make it that much more entertaining. Essentially, the best way I can describe "Red Velvet" is artistic madness, combining an entertaining blood filled horror tale with a visually stunning presence. While "Red Velvet" is definitely not for everyone and their will undoubtedly be those who don't like it, I say take the chance and give it a shot. Just in case.
Pat: "Why are you doing this?"
Killer: "This is real life. There is no sense in any of this. It's just the way it is. Fucked up, huh?"