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Op-Ed: TIFF 2010 – The confusing painful gorefest of Red Nights (Includes first-hand account)

Rest assured, you’ll be sick to your stomach watching some scenes in Red Nights. Torn flesh, violent kills, lots of blood…right, this Hong Kong film isn’t for everyone.

It starts innocently enough, despite some initial confusion. A mysterious box falls into the hands of Catherine (Frédérique Bel) who killed a minister before the same fate fell on her. She wants to sell it even though she doesn’t know what it is, or does she? We’re not sure. Nor are we certain who this arms dealer is who wants to get the object back into his possession.

Catherine travels to Hong Kong to sell the antique to an art collector Carrie (Carrie Ng) with a devilish side. We see wha kind of sadism turns her on, and it’s not pretty. But that pales to Carrie’s kink to use her jade claws for violence that would even make Freddy Krueger squeamish.

A still from Red Nights

A still from Red Nights
Courtesy TIFF

As beautifully as Red Nights is shot, the plot falls flat, the dialogue is cliche and you can’t help but think it’s simply a vehicle for some truly flinching scenes of gore. Sure, the action picks up in the second act and we see some character development between Carrie and her assistant-lover, but it’s too little too late.

Red Nights isn’t all thumbs down. Ng is the standout talent, boasting chilling menace in one minute and then tenderness the next. She knows how intense a simple glance can be. And Hong Kong gets a starring role in the film, showcasing gorgeous aerial views of the concrete jungle.

You’ve been warned, Red Nights is not for soft stomachs. But it is for films fans looking for a daring piece of art willing to take chances, as bloody as they might be.

Red Nights is one of many films reviewed during TIFF. Read our other reviews: Casino Jack, Conviction, The Trip, Blame, Sarah’s Key and Bad Faith. This is the final review during the madness that is TIFF.

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