Red White & Blue -- Film Review

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Attempting to combine intense psychological character study with full-bore torture porn, "Red White & Blue" fails to satisfy on either level.

This would-be cult item from British director Simon Rumley ("The Living and the Dead") starts out intriguingly, depicting the sexual misadventures of a clearly emotionally troubled young woman who sleeps with everything that moves. Unfortunately, the proceedings degenerate into sadly familiar if well-executed carnage once it shifts into horror-film mode.

The film's slow-paced but effectively moody first half centers on the comely Erica's (Amanda Fuller) seduction of various eager sexual partners, including rock musician Franki (Marc Senter). Along the way, she begins a friendship with her neighbor, the wild-eyed, unkempt Nate (Noah Taylor), an Iraq War veteran who seems to be the only man who doesn't want to sleep with her and who regales her with an account of having tortured animals as a child.

The focus then shifts back to Franki, whom we learn is tenderly caring for his cancer-stricken mother. But when he discovers that his liaison with Erica has dramatic implications, he decides to take brutal revenge. Enter the protective Nate to the rescue, as the proceedings quickly degenerate into a frenzy of violent mayhem involving plenty of duct tape and sharp knives.

Director-screenwriter Rumley clearly has impressive technical skills, creating a quiet atmosphere of unease with his adroit use of sound, visuals, music and editing. He also has elicited highly effective performances from the performers, especially the intense Fuller and Taylor, and makes excellent use of the rustic Texas locations. But whatever deeper points he's trying to make here -- either about the violence permeating American society (the title is a bit of a tip-off) or the thin line between victim and predator -- are lost amid the violent mayhem.

Opens: Friday, Oct. 8 (IFC Films)
Production: Screen Projex, Rumleyvision, Fidelity Films
Cast: Amanda Fuller, Noah Taylor, Marc Senter, Nick Ashy Holden, Patrick Crovo, Jon Michael Davis, Sally Jackson
Director-screenwriter: Simon Rumley
Producers: Bob Portal, Simon Rumley
Executive producers: Adam Goldworm, Doug Abbott, Tim League, Judy Lipsey
Director of photography: Milton Kam
Editor: Rob Hall
Production designer: Josh Crist
Costume designer: Tessa Justman
Music: Richard Chester
No rating, 104 minutes
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