Always one of my favorite aspects of film festivals is taking chances on things, those little movies that arrive with no fanfare that few champion. Just looking something over in a program, going by your hunches, sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, you’ve got a discovery on your hands, something to tell your friends about, and when it doesn’t, you’ve got something to warn them against. That pretty much defines Fred Vogel’s The Redsin Tower.
The DIY indie horror scene doesn’t really get much play on this site (or much outside of only the most dedicated of the genre press) in part because there’s a lot of it and it’s hard to sort out the good from the bad. I’ve seen very little of it over the years that I’ve liked and I’m pretty much adverse to it now. I’ve seen enough of them to know what to expect, mainly horror fanboys trying to remake their favorite films on DV with their buddies, and that doesn’t interest me at all. This scene should be where the next great horror filmmakers are coming from, but one has yet to emerge while there are thousands of these titles cluttering up shelves at horror conventions that many of you will never know of, much less see. If it weren’t for the Fantasia screening, Redsin Tower would have been yet another one of these things for me, but after sitting through the whole thing yesterday afternoon, my feelings about DIY horror remain unchanged.
What’s wrong with The Redsin Tower? Pretty much everything. The title refers to a creepy, supposedly haunted, old abandoned tower (with an evil history, of course) that a group of local kids sneak into to so they can party. Of course, some of the characters become possessed, while others are offed (in a bizarre subplot) by the obsessed ex-boyfriend of one of the girls. All the while, the characters are all unlikeable caricatures who exists only to get killed, saying or doing absolutely nothing that would earn our sympathy or justify there existence. And all the while, this film doesn’t offer us a single original idea that we’ve never seen before; it’s The Evil Dead meets Night of the Demons meets a countless number of other bad horror movies. Remember my little bitch session about those 80s horror "homages" last week? Exhibit one, my friends.
If there’s anything positive to say, it’s that at least Vogel seems to know the basics of film making well enough to keep things moving, and if he ever directed a story worth telling (it took four people to come up with this one), he might have something there. But The Redsin Tower is a sad, by-the-numbers, pointless little thing that just re-enforces what I said last week, that we need new ideas in order to make this genre exciting again. I’d seen The Redsin Tower countless number of times before I actually laid eyes on it because I’ve seen everything that’s influenced it. I’m starting to think that the MPAA ratings should not only list objectionable content but also the other movies each film resembles in order to give you an even better of what’s in it. I know that Vogel and his crew worked hard on this and they’re obviously thrilled that it screened at Fantasia, but they didn’t earn the honor. Making a horror movie all on your own is one thing; making it good and original is the real accomplishment and the simply haven’t done that.Read More