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STUDIO: Pathfinder Home Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 100 Minutes
• Alternate ending
• Still Gallery
"It’s The Red Shoe Diaries gets slaughtered by Titus Andronicus!"
Resmine Atis, Andrew Welsh, Irina Stemer.
Giselle (Stemer) dominates the life of her daughter (Atis) after the suicide of her husband. The daughter, Naya, is a smart, well-read girl who likes to put leeches on her body, while Giselle likes to pretend to have cancer and play with her ugly, furless cat.
Since neither of them is up to the task of maintaining the grounds of the mansion they inherited, Giselle hires a reasonably good-looking ex-con to live in the guest house and work in the hot sun with his shirt off. The sexual politics mirror the relational ones, and soon all three are stuck deep in paralyzing imaginations and memories.
"Hello, my sperm surrogates."
Presented in 16:9 widescreen, the cinematography is creating and engaging, but marred by transfer errors that make the film almost unwatchable. There is severe artifacting present whenever the camera is in motion, and the color balancing and edge-enhancements make it look as if some of the shots were assembled off of eBaum’s World.
The soundtrack is subtle, with music composed by Christopher Wong, and effects work that summons the feeling of lazy summer days and isolation.
Barely a nod is given to the special features, with a stills gallery, a few bios, and a less-ambiguous alternate ending.
By the great beard of Cthulhu! A man approacheth!
It’s a shame about the crappy transfer, because the film has a lot going for it otherwise. The story is about secrets and festering lies, and Pete Red Sky’s writing and confident directing go a long way towards setting the characters apart from those in other, similar stories. The histories of the primary characters, Naya and the groundsman Vince, and revealed gradually and with a dexterity that brings their arcs around until they’re almost moebius strips.
Some of Naya’s dialogue falls flat when trying to attain a level of teenage profundity, but Atis’ handles the clunkers with aplomb. Welsh’s performance as Vince also deserves mention, especially for a key sequence in which he makes a phone call to an ex-wife. The sea change that washes over his features and voice remind me strongly of Naomi Watts’ audition transformation in
The strong use of symbolism and visual metaphor carry the story right up until the last few minutes, in which Red Sky steers the conclusion to a hard left and runs it right off the road. Taking thematic elements from revenge tragedies, such as Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus or Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi, the characters clash in and emotional, but uncalled-for climax. The sudden shift into desperate cruelty leaves the audience with a memorable experience, but it isn’t built up to sufficiently enough to mesh with the preceding film.
The White Horse Is Dead features some fine acting and a literate script, but it’s hard to recommend this DVD because of the unnecessary break in tone and the wretched transfer.
6.6 out of 10