After their father is killed, three brothers head to where they grew up, to spread his ashes, only to discover the people there have their own secrets, ones connected to them…
Red Handed (or Children Of Moloch as it also called) opens with a voice-over from Michael Madsen (who is only in the film for around five minutes or so) explaining the story of Moloch and how children are tied to him. The film then moves to present day.
Madsen’s death sets in motion the main part of the story, that of the brothers going to the remote area where they came from to spread the ashes and also for one of them, one how is more reclusive due to events in his past, to try and come to terms with what happened.
The set up is well done, allowing the characters to breathe. However, that time while welcome in the film does mean there is a lack of tension building. Pete, the troubled brother keeps having flashbacks to the past. It’s obvious trouble is coming. It’s also compounded when they do meet some locals, as we (the audience) already know what they are like, as they were responsible for the father’s death. As a consequence there is no mystery there, more a question of what they are after. Or at least there would be if it hadn’t been for the opening voice-over which does reveal perhaps more than it should.
As the film progresses and events begin to build to a head, the film tries to throw in a surprise or two, but in truth, you can actually see them coming. It has to be said too, the tension doesn’t build up as much as you want and the climax felt flat. It’s certainly not a scary film.
The cast are mixed. As said, Madsen gets limited screen time and does his best. Michael Biehn has a bigger role as the Uncle who owns the house the brothers and their family are living in and he’s okay, although it did sound as if some lines of his were dubbed over. Of the others, Ryan Carnes, Kenzie Dalton, Owen Burke and the others, they are mostly okay.
The film is written and directed by Frank Peluso, making his debut. Personally, I thought the writing slightly weak on the mystery/horror angle, but stronger when focused on the brothers. As a director, there are some good moments, but the film perhaps needed a bit more focus and energy especially in the final act.
But despite these flaws I did like the film. I’m a huge fan of folk horror and while not one of the better ones, the story behind it is well thought it, owing a debt perhaps to Hereditary. With a little bit more experience for Peluso as a writer and director, this could have been a good film, instead of a flawed one.
It’s not a film that will linger after you see it, but Red Handed is not a bad film and for all its issues, has enough there to keep you interested.
Rating: **1/2 out of 5