Published Sep 26, 2010Be warned: Red Nights is directed at a certain Midnight Madness-type of audience seeking the fun of cheap thrills and the lure of the lurid.
The film opens with the coolly beautiful Catherine (Frederique Bel) dispatching her lover, narrowly escaping the same fate, absconding with the mysterious box he was carrying. The box contains the Jade Executioner's poison, a 2,000-year-old elixir supposedly used to paralyze the victim while heightening their senses.
A sadomasochistic art dealer named Carrie (Naked Killer's Carrie Ng) is determined to retrieve the poisonr. Caught in between is a British middle-woman (Carole Brana), whose meddling leads to very bad.
Seasoned screenwriters Julien Carbon and Laurent Courtiaud direct their first feature with an appeal to a variety of fetishes; the pulpy vibe allows the chase to be fun and sexy, but these pleasures are undermined by the shocking violence never far behind. The twists serve as a projection of the film's masochism towards the characters. By drawing the audience in with lush settings, attractively tough female leads and a solid MacGuffin, we have the rug pulled out from under us with the introduction of sadomasochistic murder from the very first scene.
Carrie Ng is a seductive presence, the art dealer obsessed with the extremes of pain and pleasure. Lulling the audience, as well as her victims, into believing she isn't as sadistic as she truly is, she builds tension in her every scene. Fans of Takeshi Miike will delight in the extended gruesomeness, and there is certainly fun for such a niche audience, but others are duly cautioned.
Red Nights never fully triumphs in intrigue or shock, but there are enough of both to entertain. (Red East)