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Review: RED HANDED (2018)

An opening voice-over by a dead man, followed by a plot explaining how he came to be that way. It’s a common intro in film noir. It also should have been a hint that Frank Peluso’s debut film, Red Handed, might not be the horror film it was billed as. And indeed this is more of a mystery/thriller than a horror film despite some of its elements.

Red Handed starts with some text on the screen concerning the demon Moloch, (the film was shot as Children Of Moloch). Then we get a voice-over from Michael Madsen (Kill Bill, Lady Psycho Killer) talking about his brother, where he grew up and how he said he’d go back over his dead body, and that’s what it took.

We then see how he became a dead body. All I will say is if you are a mechanic and a well-endowed and scantily clad woman shows up at closing time, be concerned. If she begs you to check out her Rolls-Royce convertible, think twice. If she invites you home to party, RUN!

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This brings his estranged sons Duffy (Christian Madsen, son of Michael) and Gus (Ryan Carnes, Acceleration, Beyond The Sky) and Pete (Owen Burke, Jungleland) together for the funeral. Their uncle Reynolds (Michael Biehn, Aliens) who was similarly estranged from their father offers the family home to scatter the ashes on. They accept and head up.

The locals seem friendly, and in the case of Rachael (Caroline Vreeland) even more modest clothes can’t hide the fact we’ve seen her before. Being at the home, however, is triggering repressed memories of a childhood abduction in Pete. When Duffy’s young son Louie (Frank Peluso 3) goes missing, he needs to confront those memories head-on.

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Red Handed suffers from being fairly obvious from the start. Following the plot is like watching dominoes fall. You know what’s going to happen step by step. The texted intro makes it obvious that there’s an evil cult involved. And every event along makes it more and more obvious where the connection to the family lies.

Removing the introduction might have helped. If we didn’t know about the cult, Red Handed would be much more suspenseful. The strange symbols they leave everywhere and Pete’s memories could have been played off each other nicely.

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Things pick up a little once the cult gathers for their ritual. It’s a familiar mix of Satan worship, ancient, non-Christian deities and snake handling, but after the dull plodding around before it, it’s an improvement. Red Handed badly needs a dose of adrenaline. Almost all the action is in the final confrontation, and it’s dull work getting to it.

Red Handed is just to restrained for its own good. There’s little action, no blood, and no skin. The last of those is extremely odd given the casting of Vreeland. Her character’s only purpose is to seduce this family’s menfolk. And there’s probably more nude and topless photos of her on the internet than ones with her clothes on.

Red Handed will be available On Demand, December 3rd from High Octane Pictures.

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