Red Victoria DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Well Go USA
How can you expect to convey an experience you've never had? – Victoria
Written and directed by Anthony Brownrigg
2008, Region 1 (NTSC), 88 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on February 10th, 2009
Anthony Brownrigg as Jim
Arianne Martin as Victoria
Edward Landers as Carl
Just over a year ago, I came back from Texas Frightmare Weekend with a camera full of pictures, a suitcase full of trinkets, an empty wallet and a Red Victoria screener.
Victoria hadn't been picked up for distribution yet, and I felt both fortunate that I had the opportunity to see this terrific little indie, and sad because of some of the shit that was getting mass marketed while gems like Red Victoria were struggling to find a distributor. All that has changed, though, as Well Go USA has come through and released Victoria on February 10th.
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 likable 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 picking this one up first chance you get.
Video and Audio:
Edge enhancement and digital noise are the biggest culprits in Victoria's somewhat disappointing 1:85:1 anamorphic presentation. It's a shame, too, because the picture, at times, looks really good, but then the digital flaws creep in. It won't be distracting to the casual viewer, but videophiles will surely pick it up quickly.
Surprisingly, only a 2.0 Dolby Digital audio track is offered. Fortunately, the film is mostly dialogue driven, but in this day and age, I have come to expect a 5.1 track at least available. For the most part, the dialogue is crisp, but there are a few instances where it becomes hollow. I blame this on the source, though, rather than Well Go USA.
- Super Extended Blooper Reel
- Behind the Scenes Featurette
- Visual Effects
- Deleted Scenes
- Directors Commentary
The commentary is an absolute blast. Since there are so few characters in the film, the "actor X did a great job here" is kept to an absolute minimum, which is rare and fantastic. The three participants obviously get along great, and the discussion is informative without being technical, with more than a few comedic moments sprinkled throughout. If you dig the movie, you will definitely dig the commentary.
Mostly consisting of interviews with writer/director Anthony Brownrigg and actors Arianne Martin and Edward Landers, the "Behind the Scenes Featurette" covers much of the film's progress from conception to the final product. There's very little fluff here, and this is recommended viewing as there is a lot of interesting info to be learned.
The "Super Extended Blooper Real" is definitely not a misnomer. In fact, it goes on for too long. I'm quite sure the cast and crew dug it, but it gets repetitive. However, I will give it credit for both the gesture and the little dance Arianne Martin does at the end of the reel. That was more than worth sitting through the featurette.
Rounding it out is an the effects featurette, where writer/director Anthony Brownrigg shows how a couple of the effects shots were done. It's interesting enough for the casual viewer, and low-budget filmmakers may find it more so informative.
Well Go USA did a good job with the features on Red Victoria, and the movie more than deserves it.