June 3, 2019 Red Summer (Movie Review)
Vacations are supposed to be a relaxing, fun time. They are the place fantastic memories are to be made and where we long to go back to. Although, sometimes the wrong destination is chosen, and the real nightmare begins, like in the new film Red Summer. Written and directed by Carles Jofre (Garra Charrua 2012, Food and Shelter 2015), it has been shown at various festivals, but now received a DVD release on Tuesday, June 4th thanks to ITN.
A Spanish film, originally titled Verano Rojo, it follows a group of friends, Paula (Aina Zuazaga: Background 2018), Dani (Juanan Cruz), Ana (Ines Palmer), and Alex (Daniel Salom), who are off on a vacation to the beautiful Mallorca island. None of them know exactly where they are going and rely heavily on a paper map that none of them seem to know how to read. As they continue to travel in search of fun, sun, and relaxation, the foursome finds that the island and some of its residents have a different plan for them.
After finding Xisco (Carlos Poyal: Farmacia de guardia 1991, !Ala…Dina! 2000) in the middle of nowhere, the group offers to give him a ride back to his home. There, Abuelo (Simon Andreu: Die Another Day 2002, The Way 2010), the crippled patriarch, and the rest of the family are waiting for them. The friends soon realize that Xisco is not the person he claimed to be. The vacation has now turned into a fight for survival. There will be blood. There will be torture. The question is no longer can they finally reach their destination, rather will they ever return home from the island.
Overall, there is nothing unique about the plot or its trajectory in Red Summer. Becoming lost in a place that is unfamiliar can lead to inconsequential interactions or, like in this film, it can lead to meeting the wrong person who has evil intentions. Bad people exist everywhere, even on an island paradise. What does separate Red Summer from other films in this genre is the methods of torture. If watching cringe-worthy bloody torture scenes is what the viewer is craving, then this film will deliver on that. Fair warning that the volume should probably be put on mute, though.
It is difficult to fully critique the acting in this film because the US release has been dubbed over in English. That said, the dubbing is not synced properly, which is off-putting, and there is also zero emotion in the words spoken. Sure, there is a lot of heavy breathing and screaming, but it is simply as though the words are being read directly from the page with no acting involved. When blood, torture, and life or death situations arise, the viewer expects to feel the fear and panic from the actors in order to participate in the ordeal with them. Red Summer unfortunately does now allow the viewer to fully invest in what is happening on the screen. An excessive amount of heavy breathing does not equal a proper representation of fear.
Horror films centered around a vacation gone wrong can often invoke second thoughts about traveling to new destinations, and Red Summer is no different in that aspect. No one ever wants to believe that their vacation will end up as a terrifying battle for survival. With a plot that is a bit shaky as well as a bit predictable, it ends up being quite clever and creative. It is for these reasons that Cryptic Rock gives Red Summer 2.5 out of 5 stars.