The Movie Waffler Dublin International Film Festival 2024 Review - RED ROOMS | The Movie Waffler

Dublin International Film Festival 2024 Review - RED ROOMS

Red Rooms review
A model obsessively searches the dark web for evidence that will convict a serial killer.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Pascal Plante

Starring: Elisabeth Locas, Juliette Gariépy, Laurie Babin, Maxwell McCabe Lokos, Natalie Tannous, Pierre Chagnon

Red Rooms poster

There's probably a great movie to be made about "murder groupies," those women who romantically obsess over men convicted or accused of homicide. Writer/director Pascal Plante's Red Rooms isn't a great movie, but its exploration of this milieu makes it a mildly absorbing and highly disturbing watch.

Red Rooms review

Bella Thorne lookalike Juliette Ganépy plays Kelly-Anne, a model who becomes a fixture in the public gallery of the trial of Ludovic Chevalier (Maxwell McCabe-Lokos), who is accused of the murders of three teenage girls. What makes the case particularly grisly is how the killer streamed the torture and murder of his victims to a paying audience on the dark web. The chief evidence against Chevalier is that facial recognition software identified his eyes as those of the masked killer in the videos of two recordings the police uncovered. The defence states that such software is unreliable and points to Chevalier's lack of a criminal record. The recording of the third murder, which might contain enough evidence to convict Chevalier, remains undiscovered.

When a reporter asks Kelly-Anne why she's attending the trial, her response is simply "I was curious." Kelly-Anne's motivations are kept ambiguous for most of the runtime, leaving us to wonder if she's an avenging angel or merely a ghoul. Kelly-Anne is befriended by Clementine (Laurie Babin), a young girl barely older than Chevalier's victims but who is convinced of his innocence. Kelly-Anne never reveals her own thoughts on the matter, but at night in her apartment she trawls the internet as she seeks clues as to how to find the elusive third recording.

Red Rooms review

As a procedural thriller, Red Rooms is left wanting by the unconvincing nature of how Kelly-Anne conducts her investigation. As we watch her navigate various websites and databases we're left to assume she knows what she's doing, but it simply doesn't make sense that this amateur sleuth would be able to so easily track down details the FBI has failed to uncover. The way Plante's camera observes the mother of one of the victims suggests that she may be involved in the crimes, but this element leads nowhere.

Red Rooms works best if viewed as a mood piece removed from real world logic. Perhaps it's down to the grim nature of the subject matter as much as Plante's filmmaking chops, but there's an unnerving atmosphere throughout that really gets under your skin. Despite the accused killer being safely locked away, we still get the sense that Kelly-Anne is in grave danger and meddling with forces of indescribable evil.

Red Rooms review

The "Red Rooms" of the film, where an audience of sickos pays to watch violence being inflicted on a victim, probably don't exist in real life, but we've all heard of those cases where live-streamers are egged on by their fans to commit atrocities. Plante's film is a cautionary tale about the potential for evil that exists in the ones and zeroes of the internet, but it never plays like a piece of luddite fear-mongering. It's made clear here that humans are fully capable of exploring their darkest nature; technology just helps to facilitate it.

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