The Haute Horror of Red White & Blue


In outline, Simon Rumley’s revenge-triangle flick has the dense dramatic content of a soap-opera plot, but instead of gazing intently, the beleaguered reach for knives and duct tape. The style is haute-horror in a grungy Austin setting: As damaged nympho Erica (Amanda Fuller) notches up guys, Rumley provides sharply cut visual storytelling, minimal dialogue, and aura-inducing piano. Erica’s boardinghouse neighbor, Nate (Noah Taylor), helps her get a Home Depot–ish job, but his Mansonite looks and left-field story about animals he tortured as a kid promise bumps ahead in their friendship. Then, suddenly, one of Erica’s hook-ups, aspiring rocker Franki (Marc Senter), re-enters the picture, caring for his sick mother and jamming with his band. The movie’s gears grind irrecoverably here as cancer suspense, HIV panic, and gruesome freakouts are whipped out in short order; Rumley could have gotten things rolling without all of the above. But the pacing and performances—particularly Franki’s resentment toward Erica and of Nate’s dead-eyed protectiveness of her—are more organic than in most horror, and Rumley ably and unironically fleshes out his characters’ workaday lives with suitable location work. By the time the twisted revenge violence happens, the story has built up an undertone of maddened grief and confused rage that’s unnerving.