Timothy (Kaeleb Zain Gartner) and Madison Edwards (Hailey Foss) live with their mum, Melanie (Dawn Van de Schoot) in a quiet, suburban neighbourhood where hardly anything ever happens. Then one day whilst collecting the mail, Melanie discovers three red envelopes all addressed to each member of the family.
They open the letters and in each of them it gives them a picture of somebody living in their area with simple instructions – kill them before they kill you. Laughing it off at first, the Edwards family don’t see how anything like this could happen, let alone that anybody would take it seriously, until Melanie decides to pay their neighbours a visit.
Red Letter Day is a high concept horror comedy and feature debut from writer/director Cameron Macgowan. Clearly inspired by a love of the genre, Red Letter Day gives a lot of nods to horror films old and new and creates something unique and surprisingly simple but effective in its conception.
Life in any quiet suburban street is pretty dull, so the concept of Red Letter Day raises the questions of what we would do if we were given the chance to do whatever we wanted – no matter the consequences. The results making the movie into a cross between Desperate Housewives and The Purge.
The movie’s story is also told through social media, Timothy and Madison watch as their neighbours open their letters and as the movie continues, it shows a reflection of ourselves as we so often post photos and videos online to just get people to notice us. The question is, how far would we go to get noticed and does our diminished responsibility give us carte blanche, whether it be through an anonymous letter or through the lens of a webcam?
However, besides the deeper issues that run through the actions of the Edwards family and their neighbours, Red Letter Day is predominantly a comedy and there are enough laughs and plenty of blood and gore to please any horror junkie. The cast all do very well, particularly Van de Schoot whose desperation and increasing exasperation reaches new levels when she’s faced with doing things to keep her family together that she never dreamt of doing.
Despite its initial slow start, Red Letter Day turns into a satisfying horror comedy that cleverly makes a sleepy little neighbourhood wake up and as the violence, horror and the black comedy laughs ensue, the audience is bound to get just what they wanted.
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