Gotta say, that when I saw the e-mail from Monica Suriyage hit our site's inbox, I got giddy. As a recent fan of hers (thanks in part to the trailer for the film we're reviewing here) and also being one of the lovely ladies spotlighted on our Women in Horror Month banner, the prospect of getting the opportunity to finally review her horror short Black in Red Out was definitely something to be excited about. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the film itself has been on the receiving end of a few awards and critical praise; I couldn't wait to dive in.
The synopsis reads as follows:
Meryl has been crushing on Davey for a while now, so when her roommate Leah tells her to go for it, she musters up the courage to tell him how she feels at their party. When the zombie apocalypse breaks out in the middle of party what seems like a disaster could actually work in Meryl’s favor—if she survives that is.
Monica Suriyage understands that the zombie apocalypse as a centerpiece plot to any horror film, isn't really anything that hasn't been covered before just short of a billion times. So thankfully, with Black in Red Out, it mainly serves as an effective dressing (and catalyst) for what's actually a relatable funny story about "hooking up", and all the awkwardness that comes with it; those moments intensified as a result of a very inconvenient black mold which sets the zombie apocalypse into high gear.
The short film's main protagonist Meryl (played endearingly by Chelsey Colosimo) is a character we have all either been friends with at some point in our lives, or maybe even, walked in those same shoes. There's something both genuinely sad and at the same, oddly ridiculous about the lengths we go to get people to like us. Its something anyone can relate with, wanting to be wanted, and that desire can sometimes grow to overtake what should be common sense. In the case of Meryl, making absolutely sure of her chances with Davey (Shaun Sutton), even when it means putting herself uncomfortably close to flesh-eating harm; and in their final moment together, Davey's heart-breaking profession leading to some hilarious results. The rest of the party animals do a fine job in playing characters that fit other common archetypes, but mostly serve as conduits for Meryl to implement her "hook up" strategies. Even so, when shit hits the fan, there are some awesome gross-out gore moments which appropriately fit these same archetypes (think about the results of mixing rotting flesh and plastic surgery).
But it's not just nasty hard to watch blood and guts, that's hardly the case; Black in Red Out is actually a very beautiful film to watch, and if you're a fan of the kind of neon-painted synth-infused high energy style usually found in one of Refn's newer films, then you'll really dig what Monica Suriyage has going on here, aesthetically speaking. And in fact, the last third of the film sports some serious Argento vibes (think Demons), what with the demonic-like frenzy being silhouetted by the piercing blue lights - which themselves - contrast wonderfully against the blood-red ambient luminance. All of it, in combination with Meryl's desperation to at the very least get an answer to her hormone-fueled questions, make for some unrelenting scenes of fever-pitch madness, with the tone to match.
And then it ends.
Satisfyingly enough I suppose, considering its running-time, but damn. Monica really has an eye for this brand of horror, and I really really hope Black in Red Out isn't the last we see of it. So keep your fingers crossed for more, and in the meantime, check out the film's trailer and facebook page below for details on festivals that may have showing near you: