It’s a tired saying by now, but it’s accurate nonetheless – we are as divided as ever. But what is it that defines our intense divisiveness? More so, what would happen if someday, someone threw a match on the powder-keg that is our high strung society? Red Letter Day weaves a comedic tale of how just how that day might go down.
In Red Letter Day, recently divorced Melanie Edwards (Dawn Van de Schoot) and her teenage children Madison (Hailey Foss) and Tim (Kaeleb Zain Gartner) begin their day in their comfy suburban home like any other. That changes quickly once Tim discovers three red envelopes within their mail, one for each of the Edwards family. Instructing them to kill someone they know specifically matched to them via online data, the picturesque suburb quickly devolves into chaos as neighbors begin to turn on each other.
“[…] absolutely stellar grotesque practical gore. From broken legs to ripped out jaws, the squeamish have been warned.”
In an era where we’ve become accustomed to 3-hour long epics, Red Letter Day races along within a brisk 74 minutes. It should be appreciated that not all stories require 1/8th a day to tell. That being said, it would’ve been interesting to journey throughout the streets of a neighborhood turmoil awhile longer to witness what other mayhem erupted. Instead, the focus lays mainly on the Edwards family, specifically Melanie. Overcoming a bit of a slow start, Van de Schoot and company do a fine job working within their characters and really excel when things start to get messy.
Roger LeBlanc’s performance as Madison‘s boyfriend Luther may win top prize for me, especially later in the film. The live-stream sequence will have you rolling, trust me. Understandably under budget constraints, writer/director Cameron Macgowan and crew make up for the lack of exploration with a story loaded with absolutely grotesque practical gore. From broken legs to ripped out jaws, the squeamish have been warned.
The obvious concept comparison for Red Letter Day would be The Purge, but by no means does that make this a retread. The Purge franchise, for those who don’t know, revolves around a fictional holiday where all crime becomes legal for 12 hours, acting as a “release” for citizens to rid themselves of all that built-up rage. While that series plays the idea of violent, festering anger deadly serious, Red Letter Day plays it mostly for laughs. Instead of vigilantes seeking revenge for the death of loved ones, we get baby boomers swinging sledgehammers at phone-addicted teenagers. Satire is certainly the focus, but Macgowan peppers in enough nods to the horror genre to satisfy fans of either. We even get a cameo from Friday the 13th favorite Tiffany Helm, who played the break-dancing Violet in Part V: A New Beginning.
Getting to the heart and soul of Red Letter Day, viewers can take any number of pieces of social commentary away afterward. Refreshingly though, Macgowan doesn’t preach but merely points out that much of what we fight about these days is rooted in the most trivial, meaningless of reasons. We let ourselves fall victim to whatever the mainstream news wishes to rile us up with. We go to extreme lengths just to get the “likes” online. We immediately assume the worst in one another, basing our judgments on what someone else owns, how they talk, or even the color of their skin. No one is immune here. After all, “all they did is send the letters, we did the rest.”
“Red Letter Day comically reminds us how stupid we all must look, anxiously awaiting someone to slip up to spark our next Twitter fight.”
In the end, Red Letter Day presents a satisfyingly relevant satirical horror-comedy for the age we live in. Whether it be an old man attacking a teen with a sledgehammer, hissing “You damn millennials!” or the comment section on a live-streaming torture session telling the captor to “MAKE THEM KISS!“, Red Letter Day comically reminds us how stupid we all must look, anxiously awaiting someone to slip up to spark our next Twitter fight.