Weaver has gone from ghost-busting to ghost debunking. However, she may have met her match in Simon
Silver, a notorious television psychic from the 1970’s, who comes out of
retirement for nefarious purposes in Rodrigo Cortés’ Red Lights (trailer
opens today in New York.
Margaret Matheson (a Richard Matheson hat-tip, perhaps?) is the chair of the
department of skepticism. Her rival, Dr.
Paul Shackleton, is the chair of the department of believing any spooky thing
that might bring in funding. She and her
colleague Dr. Tom Buckley expose psychic frauds, while Shackleton plays with
his flash cards. Simon Silver was the
one that got away. Supposedly vindicated
by a flawed laboratory study Matheson refused to sign-off on, Silver’s triumph
has always been a blot on her reputation.
the Uri Geller inspired villain back in the public eye, Buckley is spoiling for
a fight and sweating profusely, but Matheson is gun shy. Even if he does not have psychic powers,
Silver is a master of finding his critics’ weak spots and exploiting them. Yet, with all the stuff suddenly going bump
in the night, we are led to wonder whether or not the psychic really does
command dark forces after all.
first half of Red is a rather nifty
little paranormal investigation procedural, but once Weaver’s Matheson is unwisely
removed from the equation, the film completely craters. Logic is treated with contempt and the indie
breakout sensation Elizabeth Olsen is stuck standing around with nothing to do,
besides sleep with her T.A. To make
matters worse, Buckley’s closing monologue and subsequent voiceover narration
invite open mockery, following a climax that looks like it was plagiarized from
the Harry Potter franchise. They are so
over-the-top, they make the newly rediscovered Ed Wood film, Final Curtain, sound sharp and focused
brings a reliably smart and mature presence to the film as Matheson and she
develops a likable and realistic chemistry with Cillian Murphy’s Buckley. Frankly, the female mentor-male protégé
relationship is not often seen in films and it is quite nicely turned
here. Unfortunately, all the woo-woo
effects get awfully sour very quickly.
It is also another depressing reminder of the fall of Robert De Niro,
once again playing an icily impassive villain in a dark business suit.
really can be divided into two distinct
parts. One is pretty engaging. The other is ridiculous and utterly
clichéd. Sadly, the latter is the
somewhat longer concluding piece, which essentially sinks the entire film. A severe return trip to the editing bay was
advocated for Red here when it
screened at Sundance, but given the venom heaped on its embarrassingly overwrought
conclusion, this clearly did not happen.
As a result, Red is ultimately
a disappointment, not recommended, despite the nice work from Weaver up
top. It opens today (7/13) in New York
at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Horror Movies, Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver