Jeff Sinasac has an impressive string of credits as an actor, and with the Canadian independent horror film Red Spring, he offers an accomplished debut as a feature-film writer and director, as well. He takes some tried-and-true scare fare elements and puts enough original spins and, more importantly, heart into the movie to deliver a satisfying slice of vampire scare fare.
In a post-apocalyptic area in and around Toronto, a small band of survivors travels together, though exactly where they are going and when is often challenged by different factions of the group. Why they are on the move is without question, though: the world has been taken over by vampires who hungrily seek the ever-diminishing number of human survivors they can find.
The ensemble cast features Jeff Sinasac as Ray, a man who refuses to give up hope that his wife and daughter may still be alive somewhere; Elysia White as Vicky, a latecomer to the group whose deceased survivalist father built an emergency shelter where the group holes up; Reece Presley as hot-headed soldier Mitchell; Lindsey Middleton as his girlfriend Bailey; Jonathan Robbins as Carlos, the group’s more hapless member; and Adam Cronheim as Eric, who escaped a human-breeding camp set up by the vampires to provide future years of food.
Monster movie fans wondering about the use of vampires will be interested to learn that these creatures of the night are a kind of hybrid between two different undead camps. These monsters are certainly vampires, and ghoulish looking ones at that, but they are not far removed from the modern concept of zombies, either. Their feral behavior at feeding time is balanced out by the intelligence to do what they did as humans, such as drive cars, shoot guns, and make plans. They have lost their abilities for speech, though, reduced to emitting guttural growls and piercing shrieks. Their low-fi make-up design recalls Carnival of Souls and Night of the Living Dead, which this reviewer will take any day over CGI vampires. On that topic, it is refreshing to see Red Spring use an aerial shot of a large group of vampires done with real humans in makeup, rather than creating the scene by computer.
Jeff Sinasac gives viewers time to acquaint themselves with the protagonists so that we have ample opportunity to side with certain characters. Sinasac and Elysia White have the more fleshed-out roles, and they both do a terrific job in those leads. The rest of the group is made up of sometimes one-note characters, but Sinasac has wisely given each character at least one emotional scene beyond their otherwise limited scope.
If Red Spring sounds like familiar territory so far, it often is, but Sinasac’s screenplay serves up some action not often seen in vampire films, and offers characters who are more than mere future meals for the baddies. For me, this sets it apart from movies that simply try to copy a proven formula in those subgenres. Sinasac keeps things running at a brisk pace, and balances the horror and drama elements successfully. From the film’s opening sequence of Ray surveying a building filled with bloody, fly-covered bodies to its final frame, Red Spring offers plenty of reasons for horror fans to add it to their need-to-see lists as it kicks off its festival circuit run.
Red Spring screens at Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival, which runs November 23–26 at the Royal Cinema in Toronto, Canada.
(3.5 / 5)