Through a fairy tale blog that I subscribe to, I came to find out about a new, independent movie called Red Kingdom Rising. The name piqued my interested, the movie poster drew me in more, but when I read that it was inspired by a mix of Alice In Wonderland, Through The Looking Glass and the old fairytale Donkeyskin, it had me. I dropped everything I was doing to go see the trailer, available on the movie’s official site.
After I watched the trailer, that was it. I was hooked. I had to see this movie. I was fascinated to see what that mix of inspiration would bring to a film, and the visuals from the trailer alone planted photo seeds in my head.
I read everything I could about the film in a flurry of obsession and quickly realized that the film had not yet been released, much to my great disappointment. I sighed to myself and prepared to be patient, but in the meantime, I shot a photo inspired by all the vivid reds in the trailer with model Sandy Moore.
I can’t remember now how it came about, but somehow, Red Kingdom Rising writer/director/producer, Navin Dev, saw my photo and that I cited the movie as inspiration, and we exchanged a few emails. And after a few weeks of building up my courage, eventually I sent him an email saying how much I would love a screener copy of the movie so that I could write a review here on my blog. Somewhat to my surprise, but much to my delight, Navin said yes!
The film arrived this afternoon and I instantly changed my plans to watch it right then and write my review right away, so without further ado…
The film tells the story of Mary Ann, a young woman who must return to her childhood home where her father has recently passed away. Through a series of events, she is thrust into a dream world which forces her to confront her horrifically traumatic past, which she has tried to forget.
The movie can safely be described as belonging to the horror genre, but it is more than that. It is not horror for the sake of horror, it’s horror because horrible things happen in real life, and you have to try and live with the consequences of them. The squeamish will probably want to look away at parts, but I didn’t feel any of the more grotesque elements were overdone, they were done just enough to serve their purpose in the story.
The dream world Mary Ann finds herself trapped in is controlled by the Red King, a dark and sinister figure. As Mary Ann travels through the world, she finds a masked girl named Alice who seems willing to help her, but does so in a cryptic, Lewis-Carol-esque way.
The film uses metaphor and symbolism beautifully, which I am particularly partial to. I also noticed the purposeful, thoughtful use of light, shadow and color, innocence and evil. Not just simply red for the Red King, but a wide range of colors and tones were used very deliberately to enhance the story. This enhanced the dream-like quality of the world, since dreams are so full of hidden meaning and symbolism.
Red Kingdom Rising was a beautifully done film; wonderfully acted and fantastically imagined. It drew me into its world, and while at times I was sincerely uncomfortable being in that world, that’s a sign of a job well done. It deals with subjects many people are uncomfortable talking about, but that, frankly, is all the more reason to talk about these things. There is pain in the film, yes, and but also love, overcoming, and healing. I thoroughly enjoyed this dark and different movie.
Many thanks again to Navin Dev for allowing me to review his movie! It has left me full of photography ideas I can’t wait to go shoot, just like I knew it would!
More info about Red Kingdom Rising can be found on their site here.