High school was hard on a lot of us. For Kim, everyday world-ending angst turns into a literal nightmare. She’s just broken up with her obsessive boyfriend Mitch (referred to by the cool kids as “Mitch-Bitch”) and is dragged to an in-crowd party by her friend Becky. Before they can even get there, though, the party has been canceled (a scorned Mitch tips off the cops) and the cool folks are stocked with beer, but nowhere to drink it. Now, think back to your high school binge-drinking days. Where would you, a young, viral, fertile, okay h***y, seventeen-year-old go to get blitzed off your a*s and hopefully laid? Well, if your town is anything like every other town in America, you have a local spot that is possibly condemned, reputedly haunted and has a vague history of horrible violence and for some reason the local government has not yet torn the place down but warns the local chillen to “stay away from that place up there! There’s glass all over the floor!”
For Kim and her friends, that local taboo location is the Redsin Tower, a mouldering, crumbling structure named for its long-dead creator, Mateo Redsin, who performed horrible experiments in the name of alchemy. He even tortured his own wife and is said to still haunt the grounds. Horrific legends aside, a dilapidated stone tower is the perfect place to get blind drunk and stoned. So into the car they go. And after the car, the dangerously unhinged Mitch follows. Horror ensues.
Christ, there’s some horror here. Dismemberment is only the top of the list as the group slowly learns that there just might be something to that complicated Mateo Redsin story. Or is it just Mitch-Bitch having gone a bit nuts with a hatchet?
“The Redsin Tower” is the new movie from Toetag Pictures, directed by Fred Vogel and written by the company’s quartet of Vogel, Shelby Jackson, Jerami Cruise and Cristie Whiles (all of whom have cameos in the movie). Beautifully shot and well thought-out (there isn’t a false moment in the performances or the “kid logic” of going to a dangerous location for fun), “The Redsin Tower” is a gorgeous visual homage to Argento and Bava with its rich blues and blacks, and a story that evokes the classics of the ‘80s (particularly “Night of the Demons” without the tongue-in-cheek tone). The whole production is played straight and the story takes its time to get to the horror—Vogel clearly wants us to like the future victims, and he succeeds in his goal.
For hardcore fans of Toetag’s notorious “August Underground” movies and their minimalist stories, “The Redsin Tower” will come as an absolute shock as it is the complete opposite of the reality-snuff-film ethic of the “A.U.” series. Vogel and company have crafted a narrative filled with likable, familiar characters, places them in a tried-and-true situation, then spends the rest of the running time yanking the rug out from under the viewers. The few minor quibbles folks will have (actors that haven’t seen the inside of a high school for several years, the overly-convoluted Mateo Redsin legend recounted a little stiffly) are dispersed by the visual style and genuine shocks. There are several triumphant moments in “The Redsin Tower” that are not only suspenseful, but truly scary. There is no skimping on the gore, either, and the first murder is not only sickening, but feels horrific. Rather than marveling at Cruise’s expert effects, the audience I saw this with winced with every blow. The Toetag Pictures gang is currently shopping “Redsin” around, and it’s my hunch that they won’t be searching long.