As a film critic and journalist, I try to find at least a couple of redeeming qualities in any film I take a look at. It takes a village to make a movie, so to just discount one in a brutal fashion isn't my style whatsoever. When it comes to Red Eye, the new film currently making its festival run and co-written by Deranged Minds Entertainment (Destinie Orndoff and Tristan Clay, who also directed), what the film definitely has going for it is obvious: a great deal of passion. The young filmmakers slaved away and executed one hell of a crowd-funding campaign to get their passion project off the ground, and that's awesome. On the flip side, though, the final product, while full of said passion and creativity, ends up failing to offer anything we haven't seen before.
From the beginning, as a group of four "friends" (you know they secretly hate each other right from the start, with instant revelations that one of the lead characters hates his girlfriend, had previously hooked up with her friend, and is quite the bastard from the get-go) prepare to go to the woods to document an urban legend involving "Red Eye," an inbred man who killed people, we are instantly met with such a feeling of familiarity that it's hard to keep going on this adventure. With the exception of actress Heather Dorff's Ryann character (the sad friend of the character played by co-writer and producer Orndoff), we aren't given anyone to care about.
In a film like this one, we have to feel for someone and actually care when they're systematically picked off, but in Red Eye, we look forward to each character meeting their end. By the time the famed backwoods murderer DOES show up, we're already to the point where we just want it to happen. The kills are mostly done in slow motion and without suspense, and it's unfortunate, because you can tell Clay and Orndoff are giving it their best to make a solid film, but they seem to have a little while to go to completely hone their craft.
The film's title character, the dreaded "Red Eye," is a very unintimidating slasher, and the film's twists—when they come—don't leave its viewers shocked or surprised, but instead give off more of an "oh, okay" vibe. While the film features some impressive camerawork and good acting courtesy of Dorff and genre regular Jessica Cameron as a mysterious character who we never quite know what to think about, when it comes to the remainder of the cast, they just don’t quite hold your attention, so when all is said and done, you're left with wanting more just a little too late in the game.
Again, Clay and Orndoff have passion and potential and an eye for cinematography, but they should really focus more on developing their written characters and doing something that is uniquely them and not a hybrid of movies and filmmakers they're very obviously influenced by. I'm looking forward to what they do next, because they have chops—they just need to work on developing those chops more.