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Redman [Harry Oddie, UK, 2021]

Harry Oddie’s Redman reimagines a very particular hero identity. Perhaps as a subversion of the superheroes that have crept up in film recently, but looking at the suit it’s more reminiscent of Japan’s Super Sentai series ongoing since the 1970s (repackaged many times as Power Rangers for Western audiences since the 90s). Unlike those before it that focus on a collective identity, this short film places a striking lens on the individual.

The film opens up in a monochrome version of the world under the rule of a fascist dictator. In spite of his grief, Redman chooses to fight onwards and free society from the dictator’s regime. The first half is visibly bleak, with housing estates reframed as prisons, the static shots of an abandoned city under a black and white visage as the masked villain looms in the shadows. At this point, the closest we have to a human connection is Redman’s alluring and somewhat comforting voiceover (provided by Matthew Cummings).

These establishing images are effective at combining the aesthetics of an empty city under lockdown with the chilling connotations of a fascist regime. The shift to colour also adds another layer as it both invigorates and deepens the pathos of the film. Megan Perry’s subtle editing combined with Oddie’s steadily paced cinematography encourages viewers to explore each frame with an inquisitive eye. Whether snowy fields in the countryside or the remnants of a house set ablaze, the camera placements supplement the sombre tone provided by Cumming’s voiceover, whose lines, at times, come off a little too melodramatic. Regardless, the film coalesces into a beautifully composed audiovisual sequence at its climax.

Rather than staging action set pieces that have become a convention of both Western and Eastern interpretations of the superhero genre, the film instead shines its beacon on the deeply internal conflict of its eponymous protagonist through its kaleidoscopic lighting choices and a neo-romantic tinge to the colour grading. With a runtime of a little over five minutes, Redman is a promising debut from the creators behind the film and the hero in the mask.


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