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The Dark Red Main

The Dark Red Movie Review

Written by Ren Zelen

Released by Signature Entertainment


Directed by Dan Bush
Written by Dan Bush and Conal Byrne
2018, 101 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest European Premiere on 24th August 2019

April Billingsley as Sybil Warren
Kelsey Scott as Dr. Deluce
Conal Byrne as David Hollyfield
Rhoda Griffis as Rose Holyfield
John Curran as William Holyfield


A young woman called Sybil Warren (April Billingsley) is confined to a to a psychiatric hospital after recovering from a caesarean section procedure. She is offered medication and therapy because she persists in making claims that she did not consent to the caesarean operation – she was drugged, and her new-born son was stolen from her.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that Sybil also claims that she has had an extraordinary gift since childhood – the ability to read and influence other minds. The story she tells her therapist Dr. DeLuce (Kelsey Scott), recounted in flashbacks, involves being delivered into the hands of a deranged blood cult, which ripped her baby from her because of their obsession with her bloodline and her psychic powers.

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Sybil suffered a particularly grim trauma in her infancy and has recently lost her beloved foster mother, she also has a history of mental difficulties, so the psychiatric doctors are not inclined to believe her story. She claims that her psychic powers are negated by the medication they have given her and she asserts that the paperwork that they show her that confirms that she gave birth to a stillborn child is forged.

In spite of the evidence of the documents, Sybil has an absolute conviction that her baby is still out there because she can still ‘hear’ him. However, she soon realises that she is the only person who is willing to do anything to prove it and to get her baby back.

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Is Sybil’s mind creating delusions to cope with her trauma and her recent painful losses, or could there be something truth in what she claims, fantastical though it seems? There are times in the movie when we are encouraged to believe one or other of these things and being kept guessing is not a bad strategy for a thriller of this kind.

Director/co-writer Dan Bush takes another turn through mental breakdown and delusion having previously made cult favourites The Signal and The Reconstruction of William Zero. In The Dark Red, Bush pushes into some intriguing and occasionally grisly territory. However, what promises to be a great initial premise sags a little from having too leisurely a pace for a thriller.

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The somewhat tepid first act unfolds at the casual rate of an indie drama and continues almost right up until the action properly begins almost three quarters of the way through, when Bush finally takes the gloves off and sends Sybil on a bloody journey of revenge and retribution. But, it’s a long time coming and the film might benefit from some tightening up in the preceding scenes as the pacing can be distractingly uneven.

Having said that, The Dark Red proves to be a well-made lo-fi drama/thriller with an intriguingly twisty plot and a convincing central performance from April Billingsley.


Movie: 3 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Ren Zelen
Staff Reviewer - UK
REN ZELEN is a writer, movie critic, reviewer, academic editor, pop-culture junkie and Sandra Bullock lookalike. Her post-apocalyptic science-fiction novel ‘THE HATHOR DIARIES’ is available on Amazon in the UK and USA and worldwide.
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