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Red Siren

Red Siren

By Patrick Samuel • November 23rd, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Haut et Court

Original release: August 22nd, 2002
Running time: 118 minutes

Country of origin: France

Director: Olivier Megaton
Writers: Alain Berliner, Norman Spinrad, Olivier Megaton, Robert Conrath, Maurice G. Dantec

Cast: Jean-Marc Barr, Asia Argento, Alexandra Negrão, Frances Barber

Red Siren

Evil, they say, is not the presence of something within us, but the absence of all that’s good. While we might have within us the capacity for both, it’s how we choose to live that defines us and sometimes it’s not all in black and white. For example, we might do good things for bad reasons and bad things for good reasons, but they might not necessarily make us bad or good people when that time comes for everything to be weighed up in the end. We like things to balance neatly, but sometimes they just don’t and there’s a grey area where good and evil share the same space. However, with some people that’s just not the case and whether they’re good or evil is abundantly clear to all who cross their path and come into contact with them.

Based on the novel by same name by Maurice G. Dantec, Red Siren is French crime thriller that was released in 2002 and remains one of the most unforgettable films I’ve ever seen. Beautifully crafted and terrifyingly cold at times in its look at the nature of evil, its story is centered on a young girl, Alice (Alexandra Negrão), who walks into a Paris police station early one morning and proceeds to report the brutal murder of her nanny at the hands of her mother, Eva (Frances Barber) to a police detective, Anita (Asia Argento).

Alice also supplies Anita with a disc as evidence. On the disc is a grainy video that seems to show the girl’s nanny bound to a chair and being tortured before the grisly murder takes place. Horrified by what she’s seen, Anita wants to help Alice and get the mother in for questioning, but she’s also aware that the video needs to be authenticated. After speaking with her superior Anita also learns that Eva is practically untouchable and though she might be linked to international arms trafficking and other crimes, they’ve never been able to get her on anything.

Red Siren

This is all still pretty early on in the film, and after conducting an illegal search of the premises and finding no incriminating evidence Anita has no choice but to hand Alice back into Eva’s custody. Worried that her mother will forgive her for going to the police, Alice instead escapes but is followed by two of her mother’s henchman but manages to stow away in the back of a stranger’s car just before they can find her. The stranger turns out to be Hugo (Jean-Marc Barr), a mercenary who’s haunted by the memory of accidently shooting a child during his time in Sarajevo.

Forming an unlikely alliance, Hugo agrees to help Alice get from France to Portugal to reunite with her father but they also have to deal with Eva’s henchman and the other goons she sends to try and get her daughter back. The action that ensues is high octane and the scenes at times are quite gruesome, but none of that compares to how chilling Eva comes across as a person with her jet black bob, dark lipstick and a sinister smile that doesn’t reach the eyes. Red SirenAs someone who enjoys making videos of the people she’s tortured and killed, she takes an almost sexual delight in the suffering she causes wherever she goes and she has high hopes her daughter might follow in her own bloody footsteps one day.

With Hugo and Alice on the run, Anita is also hot on their trail and worried about the girl’s welfare and eventually all these paths cross as the story becomes more and more engrossing. Though the dialogue suffers from the actors not speaking in their native languages and the dubbing leaves a lot to be desired, I still found much to admire about Red Siren, particularly the way Hugo and Anita attempt to protect Alice for their own reasons. There’s something hinted early on about Anita’s own past, but this subplot isn’t elaborated on and as a viewer you’re just left to “go with it” as the focus remains on developing the story between Hugo and Alice and exploring the relationship between her and her mother.

Coming back to the idea of doing bad things for good reasons, Red Siren brings us to an unforgettable showdown as we see Eva tempting her young daughter to be just like mommy. Whether or not she will turn like this isn’t something that will be decided in that one moment, but throughout her life as she gets older and has continue making decisions that will not only affect her, but others as well. It’s a thoughtful and emotionally affecting piece of cinema that also happens to be violent and dark and often compared to (1994), though thematically they couldn’t be further apart as one deals with the nature of evil and the other is purely a revenge thriller.

Red Siren

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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