|MOVIE DETAILS |
• Name: Red Pill
• Year: 2021
• Country: USA
• Director: Tonya Pinkins
• Main cast: Luba Mason, Tonya Pinkins, Kathryn Erbe, Jake O’Flaherty, Rubén Blades, Adesola A. Osakalumi
• Runtime: 87 minutes
• Production company: Technicolor Postworks New York
When I faced the movie Red Pill (2021) for the first time I only knew it was the debut feature film as a writer and a director for actress Tonya Pinkins, who I knew from the TV series Fear the Walking Dead (2015–) and Gotham (2014–2019), and that she called this movie her “own personal Get Out (2017)”. That, and having read that the movie centers a group of left-wing activists on the eve of the American elections that threw Donald Trump out of the White House (not without a pathetic display of very little fair play on his side, of course), was enough to take a sit on my comfy chair and dedicate one hour and a half of my time to the film. Not with the highest expectations, but with a certain point of curiosity and interest about the film.
Well, as Red Pill (2021) starts, it gets exciting. A short intense opening and then straight to the six protagonists on their road trip to a house they rented in the heart of the White Trash America. A cocktail of different background characters, an American, an Easter European, an African American, a Euro black, a Jew, and a Latino. What a mix, they all singing their protest songs and speaking out loud their pacifist slogans while driving in their minivan. A bunch of senior hippies who had their battles and now they chill off with their social combat still keeping an activist heart. A start point that is original, even cute, and with a set of characters that show off some personality; starts promisingly. The problem is all that gets diluted easily.
Intended chemistry among the characters, with humor and social compromise as its main motor, but that always looks too forced, the interaction between the characters never flows fluid. They seem to search for the same, but they have their discrepancies. And during the first act of the movie all the action is held by the group of six and their conversations. Long conversations that they pretend to be as fresh and natural as possible, with probably a bit of improvisation by a group of experienced actors. It has its charm, but doing such long scenes based only on dialogs is an arduous task, and there is where we see the movie is going to have big limitations.
Those limitations, both in the screenplay, the acting, and, overall, the directional duties are getting more constant once the horror action starts. Soon, the group of six gets attacked by a group of mysterious people, disguised in military camouflage suits and using all sorts of weapons. Then, Red Pill (2021) flips and becomes some sort of copy of home invasion films like The Strangers (2008), You’re Next (2011), or The Purge (2013).
So, yes, writer and director Tonya Pinkins said she wanted to do her own Get Out (2017). And the influences are evident: A very rural White Trash American republican collective appearing to be the threat, the use of folklore element, and the racial conflict in the air during the entire running time. And at some moments Red Pill (2021) feels like a special movie, some fresh stuff to see on the screen and the likable fact that this time it’s not the typical bunch of good-looking youngsters with more exploding hormones than a brain the ones that are chased to death. She tried, but the execution was a flaw. Too Many script mistakes, situations that get solved in a clumsy stupid way, not very credible characters’ reactions to the events happening… And the list of negative aspects grows. A good idea for a film that ends up being too disappointing, not even close to the expectations placed during the first minutes of the running time.
Red Pill (2021) aims high, it was conceived to be something special, to outstand, to shock the audience with something they haven’t seen before, to offer a memorable set of plot twists. But the director Tonya Pinkins pays a high price for an inexpertise, and the big amount of technical limitations, directional weakness, acting mediocrity, and a script that doesn’t know how to reach the epicness desired condemn the movie to a very discrete rating. One of the most pretentious movies I’ve seen for a while gone wrong. A real pity.
IMDB URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt11279862
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