‘Red Nights’ DVD Review
During the reign of the first emperor of China, an ingenious torturer concocted an elixir that paralyzed its victim’s limbs, while increasing the sensitivity of their nerve endings tenfold. Kept in a jade skull, the elixir could provoke sensations in infinite variations–everything from erotic caresses to appalling lacerations. Haunted by the desire to experience the extreme sensations caused by the elixir, the executioner kills himself with his own poison, intensifying his death experience. His pursuers never found the skull, which had been concealed within a large imperial seal. But the curse of the jade skull, responsible for its creator’s death, will endure within the seal, bringing misfortune to all of those who possess it. Until today…
Catherine (Frédérique Bel), has come into possession of an ancient artifact and must find a way to move it on the black market before the law catches up with her. The transfer leads to betrayal after betrayal before she finds herself face to face with Carrie (Carrie Ng), a sadistic killer who is after the poison for her own pleasure.
Any more details on that description and I might give away too much, but then again, Red Nights is predictable enough you may have it already figured out. The in-your-face foreshadowing eludes to the obvious death around the corner, the cliche cat and mouse game, and the inevitable betrayal your grandmother will be able to see coming.
Praised for its different approach and its journey down a darker path, Red Nights is one of those weird films that has left me passionless about it. I neither hate it or love it, and really don’t even know what to say about it.
I’ll admit, Red Nights kept me intrigued through nearly the entire feature but fell somewhat flat in the end. The movie does a great job holding the audience’s interest by flirting with the idea of being erotic, being a horror film, and being a dramatic tale of legend. But that’s just the problem, everything Red Nights teases at ends up never coming to fruition, leaving the audience with a mess of a film.
Although the punch line draws you in with a story about the first Emperor of China, the entire film takes place in present time, and very little is shared about the text prelude all over the marketing materials. And even though the opening scene is incredibly erotic, the movie never takes a turn down that road but makes the audience think otherwise with the constant reminder the elixir will increase your senses ten-fold (what a way to go out, right?). But there’s also the horror side of things that never prove much more than a reason to provide incredibly gory sequences at a few key points in the film.
The character development in this movie is more than shallow. Mix that with a bit of weak acting from the lead, Bel, and you have no reason to get behind a character. The best performance comes from Carrie Ng, who is convincingly evil and very sexy about it. Ng sells what the movie is marketing, but nobody else even comes close.
Red Nights is definitely worth a view for those interested in something like this, but if you aren’t sure about it in the first place I would recommend passing it up. The movie’s summary, category, and imagery are all over-promising, setting especially horror fans up for a huge disappointment.