fails to thrill with same old story

Murder mysteries are trending this season. That they may not all qualify as good is a discussion for another day. The pile of mediocrity got a tad bit taller with the release of Netflix’s Polish thriller ‘Colors of Evil: Red’, with its expected violent crimes, a red herring, a ‘Mister Goody Two Shoes’ detective, tied together with an equally jaded plot.

The film starts off just fine as it sets the narrative. Based on the 2019 novel of the same name, the story follows Monika Bogucka (Zofia Jastrzebska), the mystery surrounding her death, and the ensuing police procedural. Jakub Gierszal as Leopold Bilski is keen on pursuing Monika’s murder, despite his superiors’ attempt to close the case.

An overconfident prosecutor, he teams up with Monika’s mother Helena Bogucka (Maja Ostaszewska) to derive key details to crack the case. From this point, it simply goes downhill. The lazy writing is evident in the film’s predictability. The element of surprise and suspense is crucial to the genre, and this film fails on both accounts.

The visuals too are distasteful. When Monika’s body washes ashore, the camera focuses on her bloodless face, eyes and mutilated lips for disturbingly longer than needed. Certain scenes are relentlessly and needlessly cruel.

The only saving grace for the film is Helena Bogucka, who is an embodiment of strength as she deals with insurmountable guilt since her daughter’s death. When she says, “We have failed our daughter,” it hits all the right notes. But such moments barely linger as her unidimensional character is left unexplored. Additionally, Monika’s naïveté weighs down the emotional value of the entire plot. Instead, the makers could have focussed on the path she traversed in the journey of discovering herself.

Colors of Evil: Red has characters that can be labelled as either black or white and never grey. Even with a simplistic approach, it never makes you root for its protagonists. If only the makers had shown less reluctance to break free from the ordinary and strive for something innovative.

Colors of Evil: Red

Director: Adrian Panek

Genre: Murder Mystery

Platform: Netflix

Language: Polish

Rating: 2/5

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