Red Victoria Movie Review
Written by Steve Pattee
How can you expect to convey an experience you've never had? – Victoria
Written and directed by Anthony Brownrigg
2008, 88 minutes, Not rated
Anthony Brownrigg as Jim
Arianne Martin as Victoria
Edward Landers as Carl
On paper, Red Victoria has everything I hate about low-budget movies. Anthony Brownrigg (son of Don't Look In the Basement director S.F. Brownrigg) does everything in this movie. In addition to the lead role, he wrote it, he directed it, he did the cinematography, he edited it and he was the visual effects supervisor. Hell, I'm probably missing some things he did, too. More often than not, when you have one person handling all of these roles, the movie suffers greatly. That's not the case with Red Victoria.
Brownrigg plays Jim, a screenwriter who is told by his agent that if he wants to make money, he must drum up a horror script. Jim wants nothing to do with horror, partly because he feels the genre is beneath him, and enlists the help of Carl (Edward Landers) — an "expert" on horror films. Sadly, Carl is of no help to Jim (not for lack of trying), and Jim continues struggling for an idea for a horror movie. But then comes Victoria (Arianne Martin), his zombie/demon muse.
Victoria shows up in Jim's bed one night, and offers to "teach" Jim about horror. You can't write about horror unless you know horror, and Victoria is a good teacher. Her curriculum involves slaughtering anyone Jim comes in contact with, from his psychiatrist to the pool guy, all in an effort to show him what horror is, inspire him and get his ass in gear in writing that script.
Jim, however, is not a good student. Instead of learning from the wonderful things Victoria is showing him, he launches a plethora of concoctions in an effort to get rid of her because he just doesn't like all those people dying around him. I guess he, somehow, feels responsible.
From bottom to top, the performances are excellent. Brownrigg's neurotic Jim has just the right amount of melodrama without going completely over-the-top. Oddly enough, though, his finest scene in the film is when he breaks from character and shows his anger. More than just believable, it displays the true acting chops of Brownigg and had me wishing for more of that type of persona.
Newcomer Edward Landers as the horror fanatic, Carl, has a likeable personality that radiates off the screen. His character is easily excitable, and that seems to suit Landers just fine. He's at his best when he's working with Arianne Martin (Victoria), as Carl and Victoria have a somewhat interesting relationship, and the two play off each other extremely well.
But it's Arianne Martin who steals the entire movie. Victoria's English accent may be more pronounced than at times than others, but Martin's knack of perfect comic timing makes this forgivable. Each line Martin delivers is bone dry, which complements the slight melodrama of Brownrigg's Jim perfectly. It certainly doesn't hurt that she is quite capable of speaking volumes without saying a word by giving a just quick glance, as I found I laughed harder at some of the looks Victoria gave Jim more than some of the lines.
The acting, of course, is helped by Brownrigg's darkly humorous script. Dialogue is natural and Kevin Smith-like without sounding like Kevin Smith. It's a good mix of conversations with machine gun delivery and drawn out discussions, and they all work. I was never bored with any part of the movie, although Jim's "Macbeth" soliloquy almost tested my patience, but the scene was very well shot, and ended at just the right time.
Red Victoria is dark comedy at its finest. Normally, I don't like the particular style of comedy that is employed in Victoria — a kind of theatrical, melodramatic, at points wacky type of humor – but the outstanding script and equally great performances had me engrossed from beginning to end. I highly recommend giving this one a spin when it becomes available.
While this is a screener, and audio/video/special features will not be graded, the DVD I was provided with had a featurette and commentary on it. I hope both can be ported over to whatever final release there is. Both are enjoyable and well worth a watch/listen.
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