Red Hours review
November 7, 2008 by
Jon Peters  

Short films are a different bunch of entertainment. They can be as experimental as the filmmaker wants, hinge on a gimmick, have a twist ending, be commercial; it's countless the ways this genre of film can work. You would think that shorts would be a bit more popular, with our current A.D.D. culture, but they are not. So when a good short is seen, I believe, more than anything, the viewer must talk about it; good or bad.

I recently caught a rough cut of John Fallon's Red Hours and was entirely impressed. Before viewing it, I had trepidation as I hoped it would be good, but more often than not, horror shorts rely on the ending to make it memorable. The most positive thing I can say about Red Hours is that you might want to see in a few times. Running at 10 minutes that shouldn't be a problem because the reason it succeeds is the themes that aren't as black and white as one would think or get from a short.

Mark and his girlfriend Natasha is a cute couple but something is brewing inside of Mark. After an incident, Mark is sent spiraling into madness which may or may not be happening. It's a simple set up and John Fallon, a lover of the horror genre, has fun sprinkling in some nods to some horror classics but it never once stops the short dead or is to obvious; they flow naturally within the context of the theme. In the opening scene Mark pops a pill ("X" possibly) and spits at himself in the mirror. This is a key sequence in understanding the rest. It's a damning display of self-image. But what caused it?

Natasha might be bi-curious as there's a scene in which she makes out with a friend. I think many could misinterpret the short for being misogynistic or possibly male centric in its delivery but those would be false thoughts. Fallon is too smart for such simple explanations. Could Mark be experiencing competition and is unknowingly unraveling? Or is this a comment on the new sexual culture of women and men's role within this? I think this is where this short absolutely succeeds. Wrapped up in an Evil Dead frantic camerawork and gore, is themes, ideas, and subtle execution.

Of course this wouldn't mean anything if the performances sucked. Obviously, this is a ten minute short so each actor is giving very little to work with. Deke Richards is Mark and has the proper traits down for his character. He goes from self-deprecating to clueless but maybe his character is just naïve and unable to recognize his issues? Heather Westwood plays the woman vying for Natasha's affection, the cause of Mark's torment. While she has the least to do, in one scene she casts off a look towards Mark that is brilliant. Is she the devil causing temptation or our we looking at her through Mark's eyes?

But the true standout performance is that of Amy Wickenheiser's Natasha. With a few chilling lines and winks, she's a dangerous femme fatale. Amy is very beautiful, perhaps a shier version of Eliza Dushku, and the camera loves her. She photographs well, handles the action scenes with zest, and is the focus point of every scene; a natural magnet that hooks us in. You can see why Mark loves her and is unwillingly to let her go, because the camera doesn't want to leave her alone. Amy Wickenheiser could be something to watch for given the right material and growth.

The fact that I spent this much words praising a short should be something to take note of. Like I said, it's a work in progress, but once finished, Fallon could arrive on the horror scene. Red Hours has a frantic camerawork that creates an uneasy feeling of unpredictability, a surrealist romantic tragedy, a short worth getting excited about.

**I would like to note that I personally have ties to the short film as knowing some parties involved. I was completely unbiased, fair, and wanted to give a critique that could inspire them through my analysis of their work. This was not a plant. Know that if it sucked I would have critiqued it as such. I am a fan and critic of films despite who does what.**

Rating: ★★★★☆