There’s something intriguing about the idea of a vampire apocalypse. In the current horror cycle, we’re still firmly fixated on zombies as the harbingers of doom (see: The Walking Dead…or rather, don’t). Red Spring subs out a world overrun by slow lumbering fiends for fast paced blood suckers whose only apparent weakness is direct sunlight (an overcast day? No problem!)
Lead actor Jeff Sinasac (also the film’s writer and director) plays Ray, a man who discovers the dead bodies of his wife and daughter in the opening scene. It’s an expedient way to convey the devastation that has befallen the world, as well as the peril that Ray and his group of ragtag travellers find themselves in. The vampires, we learn, have completely taken over and humans are in short supply. Red Spring offers no insight on the origins of the infestation, or the state of the rest of the world outside of the Toronto/Barrie region; this choice – to focus on a small group of survivors trapped in a pressure cooker situation – is one of the film’s best decisions.
When it works, Red Spring succeeds because of two elements: its mythology and its characters. The former is comprised of smart vampires, who still have the ability to plot and plan in addition to super powers like advanced smell. The creature effects makes them look a little like the rock band KISS – large black rings around the eyes, white face make-up and elongated nails – though they’re most effective when glimpsed in passing or in the shadows.
The other strength is the characters. Sinasac has created some broad stereotypes – the gruff military man, the final girl, the comic relief – who are initially quite grating. As the film progresses (and the cast is expectedly whittled down) however, the actors come into their own and become far more enjoyable. The banter, in particular, when they eventually end up trapped in an underground bunker as things go south, is highly enjoyable.
Red Spring does have its share of weaknesses. The most obvious problem is the low budget, which frequently forces Sinasac to devise creative directorial strategies for his attack sequences (a night time attack in the wood is great) but green screen scenes early in the film are distractingly awful. Additionally the acting varies wildly: Sinasac is a solid every man protagonist, while Elysia White shines as resourceful Vicky, who can handle a weapon and owns the bunker. As military leader Mitchell, Reece Presley has a tendency to overact and Lindsey Middleton (Bailey) oscillates between plucky and amateurish.
Overall Red Spring is an enjoyable entry into the horror apocalypse subgenre. The film benefits from an intriguing mythology and several great characters, though it suffers from poor special effects and some bad acting. If you’re tired of those dull as dishwasher zombies, the film a great alternative.
Red Spring had its world premiere at the 2017 BLOOD IN THE SNOW film festival, which runs from November 23 – November 26. Festival passes and individual tickets are on sale now at www.universe.com/bitsff