Red Pill Movie Review

Written by Sean M. Sanford

Released by Midnight Releasing

red pill poster large

Written and directed by Tonya Pinkins
2021, 97 minutes, Not Rated
Released on December 3rd, 2021

Kathryn Erbe as Lily
Luba Mason as Emelia
Catherine Curtin as Mercy
Jake O'Flaherty as Nick
Adesola Osakalumi as Bobby
Tonya Pinkins as Cassandra
Rubén Blades as Rocky

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A black couple, a white couple, and a foreign couple traipse into the seemingly neglected corner of a forgotten town. This may sound like the set-up for a joke, but it’s the opening sequence for Red Pill, and I assure you, their experience is far from any laughing matter. Other than a slew of dad joke quips from the white dude. Figures. Why would they decide to go to a town that harbors a glaring proclamation that boasts “No” to essentially anyone but white Christians? Maybe they thought that it being Halloween they could pass as the most frightening of entities to the locals: un-white people mixed in with white people who love un-whites.

Alas, the crew realizes early on that the people surrounding them have quite the uncouth welcoming practices. Camo and weapons and racism, Oh My! Sounds like the January 6th Insurrection, I know. But this was more of a dress rehearsal for some woodsy dwellers who look to be honing their skills for the day in question.

And their edge ends up being sharp as a razor. Or a bow and arrow. Or a good old-fashioned bullet. The buffet is quite rounded. But I’m going too fast, let me back up…

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A car full of friends, three couples, are in a town far from most signs of life or society other than the suburban homes equipped with housewives standing in a stupor and all wearing a red shirt with a Sanskrit emblem. Huh. Other than that, it looks like your typical cabin-in-the-woods-retreat for Halloween 2020. They have a guitar, food, booze, and a general posture of merriment. They enjoy a quiet evening singing protest songs around the dinner table and talking about the upcoming election before noticing more and more aspects of the house and surrounding woods that give them pause. Like a noose hanging up in the garage. And a green laser beam running through one of the rooms not unlike the sights of a gun. Such queries pile on until they begin to feel more and more like a family of hens AirBnBing a wolf’s cave.

Some of the acting leaves a touch to be desired, but the movie itself makes up for it with incredible imagery and shots puckered with symbolic subtleties. The color red is omnipresent, from red robins flitting both on the trees around them and on paintings inside the house, the car they arrive in, to a red barn in the back. Their driver is also wearing a red flannel. At one point, they begin discussing the Red Pill from The Matrix, and what it represents. Two definitions that stuck out to me were waking up to the truth, no matter how fucked up it is, and someone who infiltrates a group and begins killing them from the inside.

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This movie has great use of single-setting horror, their vacation house blurring the lines between a sanctuary and a mousetrap. It made me think of Night of the Living Dead, where to step outside the house means certain death. Tonya Pinkins, the film’s director and writer, who also stars in the movie, finds great use of every inch of the screen, from the colors of the set to the background ambiance, nothing exists without purpose.

It also does a great job of letting the viewer in on just enough more than the main characters, making for a very suspenseful experience. Nothing is laid out on a platter either. It’s the kind of movie that inspires multiple viewings, as some of the details are clouded beneath the overall horror of the present. This isn’t achieved to any distracting degree though, another display of a good filmmaker. The intentions, the achievements, the WTF’s of the villains in general, right down to their very identity, are clarified to an extent comparable to understanding those who still think the election was rigged or satellites make poisonous hot dogs from space to give superpowers to Jews.

Other than a couple of unfulfilling death scenes and the moderate thespian skills, Red Pill is a very well-done movie that offers lots of food for thought. So long as such food isn’t a cake made with piss and blood. You’ll get it after you watch the movie. Bon Appetite!

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Movie: 4 Star Rating Cover

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Sean M. Sanford
Sean M. Sanford
Staff Reviewer
Sean M. Sanford was born and raised in the Sierra foothills of California on a haunted ranch that was constantly trying to remind him how wonderful it is being scared shitless. He later moved to San Francisco where he currently resides in an apartment that may or may not be cursed. With so many horrific dimensions to his life, Sanford has been known to revel since birth in scary movies, novels, comic books, and tales told by friends and loved ones. He writes fiction for the skateboarding magazine Lowcard, through which he has a collection of stories and photos called A Manbaby’s Requiem. He also wrote fiction for the online periodical Defiant Scribe. He writes book reviews for Night Worms, and Horror Oasis, and has written horror movie articles for the website, The Infinite Eleven. He has an Instagram account all about books, called @skaters_who_read. He and his wife Candice have started a homemade incense company called Effin Relax, and he’s been known to burn said fragrances during the scariest of movies to help calm his nerves. He looks forward to being the most freaky and creative spirit once he’s left this mortal coil.
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