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Return in Red (2007)

Director: Tyler Tharpe
Starring: JJ Huckin, Amy Paliganoff, Keelan Rushing, Linda McCormick, Becky Niccum
Not rated, 90 minutes

Life in a small town takes a turn for the weird when a mysterious white van, equipped with an electronic device intended as a sort of sonic weapon, arrives and begins broadcasting an array of unnerving sounds. The noises disrupt television and radio signals, and then begin disrupting people's brains.

RETURN IN RED opens with a scary quote concerning the use of "sonic weapons" against human beings from Zbigniew Brzezinski, a famous foreign policy advisor with a name straight out of Lovecraft. It immediately sets a foreboding tone that accompanies scenes of the town's residents going about their daily lives, completely unaware that someone is using them as guinea pigs for an electromagnetic mind-scrambling device. If there is a major complaint here, it's that director Tyler Tharpe spends a little too much time setting the mood, and very little happens for the first hour of the film. However, there are several genuinely creepy moments sprinkled throughout that make the film worth a look. To top it all off, there is a surprisingly gory climax that has a very odd charm to it the works in its own weird way.

The film's wonderfully grainy 16mm photography and electronic soundtrack noise help give the film an entirely different vibe than other low budget horror flicks of the time. It reminds me a bit of THE WILDMAN OF THE NAVIDAD in that sense, but feels less of a gimmicky throwback than that film. That said, this is a hard one to recommend to most people. Some folks will have a hard time with the slow pace, the low budget, the amateurish acting, and the somewhat vague and mysterious storytelling. It currently has a 3.7 rating over at IMDB, which tells me I'm in the minority for liking this film.  It certainly is rough around the edges, but it has enough creepy atmosphere and fuzzy charm to make it worth a watch. This is one of the rare instances where I would welcome a leaner and more focused remake.

3 out of 5.

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