A troubled young woman must come to terms with her horrific past when she is propelled through dreams into the terrifying fairy tale world of the Red Kingdom, where she encounters figures reminiscent of her memories and fears.This new independent film coming out this year combines shades of Donkeyskin and Alice - both in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. It's billed as fantasy horror and will be making the independent film/festival circuit as well. Interestingly, the director has stated he's not actually a fan of horror; that it's the subject matter (think Donkeyskin with black magic thrown in) which is crossing this film over into that genre. From the look of the teaser trailer Im going to warn you now: although it does have some beautiful images here and there it's most definitely horror. (You'll notice this post does not have the usual amount of images and the poster above is cropped... for good reason.) If you're wondering why I'm covering this film on the blog at all, it's so you know about it in advance, should it ever cross your path.
In addition to lining the pockets of the Hollywood studios, fairy tales – with their dark and often violent undertones – are also perfect fodder for the fantasy/horror genre, and that’s the approach that British filmmaker Navin Dev has taken with his micro-budget feature debut, Red Kingdom Rising. Taking inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – and, more specifically, its sequel,Through the Looking-Glass – Red Kingdom Rising centres on a young woman, Mary Ann (Emily Stride), who returns to her childhood home following the death of her father. Mary Ann’s arrival stirs up painful memories long suppressed, and as she begins to confront her past she finds herself swept into a nightmarish dream world, where a young girl dressed as Alice (albeit with her face obscured by a Cheshire Cat mask) explains that her only chance of escape is to confront the sinister Red King – the embodiment of her childhood fears, and her darkest secrets.
The Pineal Eye posted an interview with the director Navin Dev and asked him many questions in relation to fairy tales. Here's an excerpt:
Were you always drawn to fairy tale stories?I grew up on films like Star Wars, Superman and even the 1984 He-Man animated series. The irony is that if you distil those three down to their true essence you have coming of age stories – the path and destiny of the hero. It’s highly evocative of mythology and the traditional tale of the evolution of the hero through fears, hopes and success. This lies in the core of the fairy tale. Fairy tales have always evoked a sense of truth of who we are and how we journey through our own psychosis and development in life. The analytical works of Joseph Campbell and Bruno Bettelheim firmly illustrate that. One of the very first books I read was the Grimm’s Little Red Riding Hood and the imagery told through the narrative struck me. It’s a timeless tale we can all relate to, no matter what our generation and backgrounds are. Red Kingdom Rising, along with keeping to Lewis Carroll’s themes of reality and dreams, divine mathematics and psychological evolution, does adhere to traditional mythology. It tells the coming of age journey of a woman coming to terms with her past through this dark journey in her wonderland.
Do you plan on exploring others in future works?I indeed plan to continue exploring the fairy tale and mythological structure through the mainstream fantasy genre of film – it’s great to reach out to vast commercial audiences and to share meaningful stories through an entertaining way.
Do you work in the short film format to intentionally match the stories, or is it just a preferred way of working? Do you have any plans for a feature length film in the future?My short films were mainly built to develop my technical abilities in how to aesthetically tell fairy tale stories in an entertaining way, but yes, they do match the structure and short time frame format of the generic fairy tale. What’s advantageous about the short films is that they use the time efficiently and tell the audience all they need to know within their short form – they’re short, sweet and powerful. Red Kingdom Rising’s story however demanded a bigger canvass, so the story dictated itself to be feature length. I wanted to fully explore the protagonist Mary Ann, along with her fears and her eventual epic sense of closure. I would be grateful to have the opportunity to continue with the feature length format and I do indeed have another story to tell.
You can read the whole interview HERE and see a Red Kingdom Rising teaser trailer HERE. The official website is HERE.
Dev previously tackled the story of Pinocchio in a 9 minute short film titled The Tree Man which is fairly creepy (as it combines the original ending Collodi wrote for Pinocchio in which he was hanged, with the revised ending he added on advice from his editor) so take that into consideration. You can find more information about The Tree Man and see a clip of it HERE.
While this may be an interesting - and even well done - film, I'll be giving this one a miss.