Crimson DVD Review
Directed by Ken Cosentino
Written by Ken Cosentino and Michael Shimmel
2011, Region 1 (NTSC), 86 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on March 12th, 2013
Joseph Biondo as Joe The Bodyguard
Lizzy Bruno as Amanda Levitte
James Ventry as Tommy Emerson
Michael Leszczynski as Walter Levitte / Crimson
John Lynch as Special Agent Dominguez
Marco Mendez as Santiago De Jesus Diazinho
Patrick Gus Posey as Boyd Emerson
Sam Qualiana as Bartender
Dale Rugg as Johnny Dragon
Paul Spitale as Agent Stone
Aspiring comic book artist Walter Levitte is having a rather bad day. He lives in a shit hole. He doesn’t have a pot to piss in. He’s balding. His girlfriend is leaving him. His proposed comic book project about a red-cloaked bat-wielding superhero named Crimson who cannot feel pain, is seemingly stuck forever in pre-production Hell at the hands of an abusive publicist. Walter has to deal with all of this in addition to somehow managing to get the snot beat out of him by a thug at his favorite convenience store. Waking up from his beat-down induced coma, Walter cannot remember his name or his past. The only memories he has come in brief disjointed, confusing, and muddled flashes of red. Believing he is the embodiment of his own fictitious creation, Walter Levitte is now dead, and Crimson the anti-hero is born! A pretty good concept that unfortunately makes the audience wait nearly thirty minutes to actually transpire.
Crimson, the movie, misses the chance to have some real fun with the superhero genre. Not that I’m advocating a level of outright parody or slap-stick, but damn does this flick take itself way, way, way too seriously. There was a golden opportunity here to become the no-budget indie-darling version of Kick-Ass, carefully marrying violence, satire, and humor. Unfortunately, the writers of Crimson decided to play it pretty close to the vest, which makes the whole thing come across as bleak, tired, and dreadful (in the literal sense of the word). I had hopes that I might have stumbled upon something with real potential the moment Crimson, the vigilante, began to speak for the very first time in a gravelly tone that would make even Christian Bale’s Batman reach into the utility belt to offer up a cough drop. Alas, my hopes were dashed as the drab, plodding, and pretentious story progressed.
Despite its various flaws, the most egregious one that really drags down the production is the location scouting. I get it. You have zero budget and you’re forced to film wherever they’ll let you for cheap cash, but it doesn’t make it any less disappointing when every scene is shot in a place that seems completely inappropriate within the context of that scene. For example, the big crime boss’ office looks like it was filmed in someone’s poorly lit unfinished attic. The hospital room that our protagonist recuperates in for days is undoubtedly just an exam room at some local free clinic. The pivotal finale that is intended to take place in a seedy, speak-easy was obviously shot in a bleak and tired office space. I’ll concede that it all comes across as nitpicking, but it really is the largest weak link to an otherwise admirable low budget production.
The (over) acting in Crimson, is universally passable, and quite frankly expected given the circumstances. The standout being Michael Leszczynski as Walter Levitte/Crimson despite the aforementioned clichéd superhero growl. Leszczynski’s intensity, while at times laughable and misguided, does manage to successfully propel the story forward. He’s giving it all he’s got, it’s just unfortunate that he doesn’t have something more clever to say or do. James Ventry as the story’s main antagonist and crime boss’ son struggles with the dialogue, but has a very imposing on-screen presence that more than makes up for any deficit in raw acting chops.
When it is all said and done, the bat-wielding Crimson is a swing-and-a-miss, but I heartily applaud the effort.
Video and Audio:
Crimson is presented in anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 Dolby audio, neither of which are particularly noteworthy or offensive.
There is a decent 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and a bunch of trailers for other Bloody Earth releases.