Red Earth Poster

Red Earth (2023) Review

Red Earth begins with an exasperated-looking Kasei Harriot (Christina Leidel, Mosaic, Electric Jesus) sitting down in front of the camera and beginning to speak. Thus begins the story of three generations of the Harriot family and their involvement with the red planet.

We’re told via a text crawl that by 2492 Earth is in the middle of a mass extinction event and Mars has been colonized by multinational corporations in hopes of saving the human race. Instead, war breaks out between the two planets. A war that the colonists win by using the Martian moon Deimos as a kinetic energy weapon, crashing it into Earth with devastating results.

A generation later the first human mission back to Earth has ended in disaster leaving only one survivor, Thomas Harriot (Matt Devine, Jane’s Everlasting Heart Condition, Dead Buffalo). He wanders the desert wasteland that’s all that’s left of the once blue planet.

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The idea of Earth and its colonies getting into an interplanetary war is one of the most common plots in science fiction. Witness the recent film Colonials which also deals with a Martian colonist returning to a long-destroyed Earth. But where that film the futurist action route, writer/director Georg Koszulinski (Blood of the Beast, Cracker Crazy: Invisible Histories of the Sunshine State) takes a path closer to that traveled by The Artifice Girl and keeps the action offscreen, using dialogue, monologues and text excerpts from the book Tractatus Mars written by Ursa Harriot to get his points across.

If this sounds somewhat unconventional, that’s because it is, Koszulinski himself describes red Earth as experimental and that’s a fitting description. Red Earth doesn’t have a narrative structure, it jumps around in time and space, from Thomas’s broadcasts from Earth to Kasei’s recollections on the anniversary of the war and from Earth, ten years before the war, the words and experiences of her father (Mark Evans, Freejack, The Legend of Red Lake) somehow preserved and presented to us.

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Visually Red Earth is a mix of footage shot by Koszulinski and Kate E. Hinshaw (Ten Leaves Dilated, Dolphy), glitchy, distorted digital footage and various nature shots from peaceful forests to volcanic eruptions. The segues between these can be quite jarring at times, helping to drive home what the characters are trying to communicate to us.

And what they are trying to tell the viewer will prove as divisive as the way the film tells it. The film’s environmental and climate change messages are quite clear. Similarly there’s a very strong anti mega corporation and unchecked capitalism vibe to it. That may be amplified by Elon Musk who famously said he wanted to build his own colony on Mars being in the news so much lately.

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Obviously, if you’re receptive to these messages you’ll have a much better chance of enjoying Red Earth than if you’re neutral on the subject. And if you’re opposed to them you may want to skip it entirely or you may spend most of its hour long running time screaming “WOKE” at the screen. Myself I found Red Earth interesting, there are some striking visuals and the score, also by Koszulinski adds to the stretches without dialogue.

I do have to say however that I probably would have liked it more if there had been a bit more action and the presentation hadn’t felt quite so preachy at times. But I’m still more of the grindhouse than the arthouse, so that’s to be expected. Those in Red Earth’s target audience should have no reservations about it.

Red Earth makes its debut April 28th at the Atlanta Film Festival with screening also scheduled for the 29th at the Miami Sci-Fi Film Festival and May 19th at the Screen Door in Tampa, FL. You can check the film’s website and Facebook page for more details. You can also check with FilmTagger for something similar to watch while you wait for Red Earth to be released.

Our Score
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