Red Victoria

Film review by Thomas M. Sipos




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Red Victoria (2008, dir: Tony Brownrigg; cast: Tony Brownrigg as Anthony Brownrigg, Arianne Martin, Edward Landers, Joshua Morris, Christian Taylor, Cory Turner, Haven Riney, John Phelan)





Comedic horror films are a fine balance; too much comedy can overwhelm and kill the horror. Films that achieve this fine balance -- films with great laughs and true scares -- include An America Werewolf in London, Re-Animator, and Evil Dead.

Red Victoria fails as horror. It doesn't even try to scare.

Jim (Tony Brownrigg) is a mainstream writer who is pressured by his agent to writing a horror script. Jim hates horror, but does it for the money. Along the way, an evil muse appears in the form of a corpse (zombie?) and kills Jim's friends and associates to "inspire" Jim.

Some have compared Red Victoria to a sitcom. It does feel like a sitcom -- a bad sitcom. The music soundtrack is thick with upbeat songs and peppy tunes. Brownrigg's notion of acting is lots of zany mugging for the camera. "Ain't this a wacky scene!" he seems to be winking at the audience.

Jim talks to himself when he's alone in a room, as if he were Woody Allen, or stuck in a Neil Simon play.

The film is full of clichés, misconceptions, and old satirical targets. For instance, the cliché of the greedy agent who pressures a talented writer into doing horror, because it's "a surefire money-maker." In truth, agents don't need to pressure mainstream writers to create horror -- horror writers are everywhere. And the market is glutted with indie horror films seeking distributors. Hardly a "surefire" money-making genre.

Red Victoria is also marred by self-indulgence. Since Brownrigg is the writer, director, producer, and star, nobody on the set held him back. Almost every scene runs on too long. Several times, I fast-forwarded, having gotten the gist of yet another "scene that wouldn't end," and anxious to get on with the story.


Arianne Martin is much better as the muse, because, for whatever reason, she doesn't mug or overact. She's a subtle foil to Brownrigg's mugging. But the contrast only makes Brownrigg look worse.

Christian Taylor has a funny bit role as Blake, Jim's pseudo-intellectual friend. Taylor delivers his satirical lines in deadpan fashion, a funnier choice than Brownrigg's mugging. (The DVD's special features reveal that Taylor improvised his quips, so maybe be wasn't too thrilled with the script?)

Yet despite Martin and Taylor's good efforts, Red Victoria needs less of Brownrigg, much less of Brownrigg's mugging, shorter scenes, and less peppy music. It needs more darkness to balance the humor.


The first 70-75 minutes are a straight (and unfunny) comedy. Then about five minutes of romance. And then five minutes of darkness, where it actually begins to get scary. Then the end credits.

Red Victoria did get a little interesting toward the end, as the romance and darkness finally began to emerge. The film's not so bad, provided you have a trusty fast-forward button on your DVD remote.


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