Sarah Walker wants more than anything to make it big in Hollywood, struggling to get by on her waitressing job at a fast food restaurant. It's even got to the point where she's finding it difficult to even spend time with her friends anymore, some of which are also, seemingly more successful, actors. One day, after what seemed like another failed audition (and rather unusual at that), she is unexpectedly called back, but it doesn't take long for her to discover that there's something very wrong with this casting call. Desperate enough to do whatever it takes to make it in Hollywood, she makes an agreement with the unconventional production house, who are willing to totally transform her body and mind no matter how horrific the process may be.
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Comedies don't get much more pitch-black than this fiendishly clever film, which will shift into horror for everyone in the audience, although that tipping point varies for each person. In other words, this movie will feel intensely personal for everyone who watches it. And credit must go to the cast, director and writers for making a film that, while unnerving you to the core, teaches you something about yourself in the process.
It centres on Craig (Pat Healy), who is having a seriously bad day: he's been sacked at work and evicted from his home, so before returning to his annoyed wife (Amanda Fuller) he stops for a stiff drink. At the bar he runs into his estranged friend Vince (Ethan Embry), a slacker who gets them into a conversation with Colin and Violet (David Koechner and Sara Paxton), a wealthy couple that's celebrating Violet's birthday by daring strangers to do things for money. In need of cash, both Craig and Vince volunteer, and the initially harmless tasks quickly become dangerous, sparking competition between them. And yet they play on. The question is how far they're willing to go.
Writers Trent Haaga and David Chirchirillo have conceived these challenges as a sliding scale from benign fun to nasty embarrassment to disturbing transgression and finally a full-on nightmare. Because of the way viewers react, this is definitely a film to watch in a crowded cinema, as it's clear which point on this scale is each person's limit: the laughter changes to nervous silence and ultimately gasps of horror. The fact that the movie sparks such a visceral reaction is indicative of its genius. You can't be complacent; you're right in here to the bitter end.
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When Craig gets fired and receives an eviction notice informing him he has 7 days to pay up or he, his wife and his new baby are out of their apartment, he is desperate for some relief from his troubles. He agrees to go out for a drink with his best friend Vince but, along the way, they meet the excessively rich Colin and his young wife Violet who take them on to a strippers bar to continue their alcohol-fuelled wild night. Colin starts to play a game with them, offering increasingly large sums of money for the first person to agree to a daring act. It stars small, with the challenges being simply downing shots or touching strippers - tasks that Vince takes up with immediacy. Craig, desperate to win some cash to take care of his family, starts to join in, getting himself beat up by a doorman and even agreeing to cut his own pinky finger off. It soon becomes clear, however, that this sick couple have no boundaries in the challenges they are willing to suggest.
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Erica (Fuller) cleans her boarding house for free rent, then spends evenings in bars looking for men. She never sees the same guy twice, and seems to take it as a personal insult if anyone tries to talk to her. Then she loses her job and has to find real work, reluctantly befriends the rather odd war veteran Nate (Taylor) and starts to clean up her life and come out of her shell. Meanwhile, hothead rocker Franki (Senter) is unable to get over both a break-up and some bad news. And he blames Erica.
Continue reading: Red White & Blue Review
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