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Red Rooms – A thriller about a woman who is obsessed with true crime

The Canadian thriller "Red Rooms" premiered in Russia on February 29. The film delves into the story of a young woman fixated on a serial killer, attending all his court hearings. Forbes Woman explores Pascal Plante's latest thriller, uncovering its intense exploration of violent crime fascination.

Kelly Anne (Juliette Gariepy) calmly walks through the metal detector at the courthouse entrance to attend the trial of Ludovic Chevalier (Maxwell McCabe-Lokos). According to the state prosecutor, this man was involved in the rape, murder and dismemberment of three minor girls. The gravity of the charges is aggravated by the snuff video that depicts these atrocities. The videos were posted on the darknet, and the killer was well paid for them. “The Red Room” is the name of the room in which, according to testimony, the murders took place.

It’s not entirely clear what motivates Kelly Anne. Director Pascal Plante decides not to reveal this secret until the very end. The girl continuously listens to the speeches of the participants – the speech of the prosecutor (who puts pressure on emotions), the response of the lawyer (hinting that the investigation lacks direct evidence) – and monitors the reactions of the jury (who can hardly stand watching those ill-fated videos).

The world premiere of “Red Rooms” took place at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, and the national premiere at the Fantasia festival in Montreal, where Plante’s film received four awards (for best film, best screenplay, best acting performance and best soundtrack). As in his previous work – the drama “Nadya, Butterfly” about a retired athlete in search of herself – the Canadian director continues to study women.

In the middle of the story, a new character appears in the film, the complete opposite of Kelly Anne, Clementine (Laurie Babin). She came from a neighboring town because she fell in love with Chevalier and is sincerely convinced that he is innocent. Based on their mutual interest in court hearings, the girls quickly find a common language, but are in no hurry to open up to each other. One is eccentric, the other is reserved; one is emotional and expressive, the other is rational and cold-blooded. In contrast to the heroines, Pascal Plante demonstrates the extent to which different people, including from the point of view of social strata (Clementine has no belongings or savings, while Kelly-Ann is elegantly dressed and makes good money), can be equally unhealthy preoccupied with the details of other people’s atrocities. They are both drawn to the darkest corners of the human soul.

Passions are literally heating up around the courthouse – relatives, holding back tears, call for reprisals, while fans of the maniac (among them Kelly-Ann) insist on the presumption of innocence. In order not to be late for meetings, Kelly-Ann spends the night on the street nearby, although she herself is not in poverty – she has a modern, well-furnished apartment, a manually configured voice assistant and a powerful computer with two monitors (with Kelly-Ann’s darknet on “you”).

The camera captures every detail. Cameraman Vincent Biron’s favorite technique is extremely slow zooms and close-ups. There is no distance between the participants in the events: we are always close to the heroes, we see their twitching eyelashes, pulsating blood vessels on their necks when they are worried, shifting eyes when they are a minute away from a nervous breakdown.

By combining elements of a psychological thriller with a twisted legal drama, the director was able to create a truly uncomfortable work. The gloomy palette (mostly cool colors in the frame) combined with the oppressive atmosphere, as if carried over from the Netflix series “Mindhunter,” create a strong effect. We can say that “Red Rooms” is a nugget in the “field” of psychological thrillers. Unless the open ending, suggesting many interpretations, creates a fog. The mystery of the serial killer remains unsolved, but the originality and courage of the main character is fascinating.

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