Colors of Evil: Red Movie Review: A rather predictable murder mystery

Colors of Evil: Red Movie Review: A rather predictable murder mystery

Even with a simplistic approach, it never makes you root for its protagonists. If only the makers had shown less reluctance to break free from the ordinary and strive for something innovative
Colors of Evil: Red(2 / 5)

It seems like murder mysteries are a trending topic this season, with and without quality. In the mediocre ones, it is usually a couple of violent crimes, a decent red herring and a ‘Mister Goody Two Shoes’ detective who steps in to save the day. The first few minutes of Netflix’s recent Polish thriller Colors of Evil: Red promise a unique approach to the genre, but then, it unfortunately succumbs to a lack of inventiveness that has marred many a film of this genre.

Director: Adrian Panek

Cast: Jakub Gierszal, Maja Ostaszewska, Zofia Jastrzębska, Andrzej Zieliński, Andrzej Konopka, Przemysław Bluszcz, Jan Wieteska

Streaming on Netflix

Based on the 2019 novel of the same name, which was originally published in Polish as Kolory Zła: Czerwień, written by Małgorzata Oliwia Sobczak, the story follows Monika Bogucka (Zofia Jastrzębska), the mystery surrounding her death, and the police procedural resulting from it. Jakub Gierszal as Leopold Bilski is keen to find the reason behind Monika’s murder, despite his superiors attempting to close the case after a former convict is put behind bars. As a promising actor and an overconfident prosecutor in character, he teams up with Monika’s mother Helena Bogucka (Maja Ostaszewska) to derive key details to crack the case. However, the cracks are too wide open to fall into, and yet, the detectives walk right past it. The shallowness in writing is evident when you can foresee the next move and not help but throw your hands up in disbelief when it invariably happens. In this genre, the element of surprise is so crucial.

When Monika’s body washes ashore, the camera focuses disturbingly too long on her bloodless face, eyes, and mutilated lips. Further, the portrayal of nudity and sexual violence in Colors of Evil: Red, is conveyed with little sensitivity. As much as it conveys the gravity of the brutal crimes involved, the decision to point the camera at victims in such a manner only increases the distance between the audience and the characters. Certain scenes are relentlessly horrific and the shock value is milked to a maximum. It is for the same reason that films like Luckiest Girl Alive and the TV Series 13 Reasons Why, were met with severe criticism.

However, not all is bad in Colors of Evil: Red. The film has Helena Bogucka at the centre. She is an embodiment of strength while dealing with insurmountable guilt since her daughter’s death. When she says, “We have failed our daughter,” it hits all the right notes. But such moments barely linger as her unidimensional character is left without much exploration of her characte. On the other hand, Monika’s naïveté weighs down the emotional value of the entire plot. Instead, the makers could have focussed on the path she traversed in the journey of discovering herself.

Colors of Evil: Red has characters that can be labelled as either black or white and never grey. Even with a simplistic approach, it never makes you root for its protagonists. If only the makers had showed less reluctance to break free from the ordinary and strive for something innovative.

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