A family of four are self-isolating in a pandemic against a virus which is spread through the internet and threatens reality itself. One or all of them may be infected.
I will say from the outset. This film is f**king phenomenal.
It was risky for writer/director Paul Schuyler to write about a pandemic whilst we are in the midst of one. Yet this brilliant sci-fi thriller will age incredibly well whilst feeding into the fears that we have developed during the current crisis.
The family at the heart of the story are a real-family, holed up in self isolation like the rest of us. There is the nod towards the repetition and not knowing what day of the week it is, the fears and questions as to why everyone must follow the rules. But the pandemic in Red River Road is one that is spread via the internet, meaning that all phones are kept under lock and key.
The only contact the family have with the outside world is to confirm their names and ID during a daily call from the authorities. Everyone has a chip inserted under their neck, keeping them within the boundaries of their home. A daily delivery of barcoded supplies appears on the driveway every morning.
Whilst time-loops are standard fare in Sci-Fi, the familiar monotony of lockdown living combined with Anna’s (Jade Schulyer) dreams of happier times provide a nice anchor point for the unravelling of reality as she knows it. First the dog, Brody, disappears after seemingly growling at an unseen foe in the forest.
Then, one by one, her family disappear. Leaving Anna – and the audience – disorientated. Nothing is as it seems, given each of the family have been sneaking a look at their phones. Surely a few minutes of internet time can’t do any harm – can it?
This film was a passion project for the Schulyer family who created Red River Road in their family home during lockdown. Yet great writing and meticulous attention to detail leaves you with a sense that this film had a sizeable budget and a full crew behind the scenes. A pleasant surprise given the constraints of filming were the practical SFX. You will jump when one of the boys cuts his hand. Your eyes will water when Anna tackles the chip in her neck.
The cinematography, editing, and score allow tension to build at the right points. I was enthralled throughout. The performances of each character and their interactions with each other are natural and believable, you quickly become invested in their lives as they are so relatable.
As already stated, this film is absolutely phenomenal. The Schulyer’s have created a timeless sci-fi thriller in the confines of their own home, and it is a must-see at this years Grimmfest Easter Edition.