A trippy, surreal mystery/thriller that is worth multiple viewings!
How do we determine what is real, and what it "just in our heads?" What defines reality? How do traumatic events affect us? Do the professionals entrusted to help us truly have our best interest at heart? These and many other themes are explored in "The Red Man", an outstanding mystery/thriller written and directed by Jimmie Gonzalez, which I had the pleasure of viewing as a judge for the Macabre Faire Film Festival in 2016.
Evan Gough, deftly portrayed by Daniel David Diamond, is a successful and famous DJ, who is haunted by a horrific act of violence involving his family 14 years prior. He has constant nightmares, and battles these with prescriptions and therapy provided by Dr. Verde, (Daniel Faraldo, in an award winning role). Evan also tends to make extensive use of the trappings of fame, namely drugs and women, which are certainly not helping him in any way. Basically, Evan has been tormented within his mind for 14 years.
Over time, Evan begins to suspect that Dr. he and other famous tenants in his building are being subjected to secret drug experiments conducted by Dr. Verde and Evan's new neighbor. This suspicion is supported by Eve (Lindsey Naves), an intern for Dr Verde, who has been doing some investigating of her own. She believes that the good doctor is indeed conducting illegal experiments with drugs that are manufactured by a pharmaceutical company he is involved with.
As Evan and Eve try and figure out what's happening, Evan begins a journey down a rabbit hole from which there may be no escape. This trippy voyage leads Evan, and the viewer, towards a shattering conclusion, with a number of twists and turns along the way. Trust me dear reader....this film requires more than one viewing. I will not give anything else away regarding the plot, as this would be cheating!! Let's just say that the journey will definitely leave you thinking!
I liked "The Red Man" very much, but it's not an "easy" film. What do I mean by that? Well, it makes you think, and it forces you to pay attention. If you do not, it can be easy to lose track of what's happening. I myself hit rewind a couple of times just so I could be sure of what I was seeing. DO NOT let this dissuade you! That's the best part of this movie. It makes you think! We live in an era of quick cuts and edits, and a short attention span mentality, and this movie, refreshingly, does not fall into that category.
The story is well crafted, and I give writer/director Jimmie Gonzalez a lot of credit for crafting such an intricate story. I loved the fact that you are never entirely sure what's going on. Is Dr. Verde truly trying to help Evan, or is he more malevolent that he seems? Is it all in Evan's head? I'm not telling!! Again, I know some people are not going to like this aspect of it, and that's too bad because they will be missing out. There is a reason why "The Red Man" won "Best Screenplay" at the Macabre Faire Film Festival in 2016.
The cinematography is well done, and the move is very surreal at times, with some truly jarring and startling visuals. It truly gives you a sense of what might be going on inside the mind of someone who is slowly unraveling mentally. The sound engineering is excellent as well, but I did find it a bit jarring or grating at times. I am sure that this is by design, as we're trying to get a sense of what is going on in Evan's head. The DJ scenes with the relentless thumping did get on my nerves sometimes, but that might be because I am getting older and crankier, and dubstep (or whatever it was) is just not my thing. I cannot lie though. There were times when I just had enough. Having said that, the sound and camera work are well crafted overall.
The acting is excellent, much more so than your average indie film. Both the lead and supporting actors and actresses all did a great job. As I had mentioned earlier, Daniel Faraldo, who played Dr. Verde, won "Best Supporting Actor" at the 2016 Macabre Faire Film Festival, and this accolade was very well deserved. Lead actor Daniel David Diamond also gives a great performance as someone who is slowly losing his mind.....or is he...... Again, kudos all around to a great cast.
In closing "The Red Man" is a fun, occasionally trippy, mystery thriller that will keep you thinking, and engrossed, until the very end, and in the world of indie cinema, it's a standout that is worthy of multiple viewings.
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