THE DARK RED (2018) Reviews and overview

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The Dark Red is a 2018 American horror thriller feature film in which a young woman is committed to a psychiatric hospital and claims her newborn was stolen by a dark cult…

Directed by Dan Bush (The Vault; The Reconstruction of William Zero; The Signal) from a screenplay co-written with Conal Byrne (who also stars), the Psychopia Pictures production also headlines April Billingsley, Bernard Setaro Clark and Jill Jane Clements.


” …think Mandy without Panos Cosmatos’ lysergic visual lyricism. It would, of course, be harsh to expect anyone to match that neon- and gore-drenched masterpiece, but Bush undoubtedly takes the gloves off in this lo-fi scorcher. The Dark Red isn’t afraid to get a little bloody, and it’s all the more entertaining for it.” The Austin Chronicle

“Propelled by its phenomenal cast, this is a story that weighs heavily on its psychological foundation, not blood and guts, as it asks viewers to make a choice whether or not to trust its main character. Your level of trust will decide the amount of thrills that you actually take from the experience, but shocking or not, it’s an enjoyable ride that is worth taking.” Cryptic Rock

The Dark Red has a premise that reminds me of the early Stephen King novels. It unfolds like a mystery thriller disguised as a drama, with a spine of horror that bubbles beneath the surface but never fully erupts. Budgetary limitations are evident, but Bush elicits a strong, solid performance from Billingsley, and she carries the movie.” Cult Projections

“Its pace is slow but absorbing, and you’re never quite sure where it’s headed next. Arguably there are too many elements at work here and they don’t all get room for full development, but the film is intriguingly dystopian and Billingsley’s performance strikes the right balance between vulnerability and power.” Dark Eyes of London

“If you are looking for a resolution, you’ll have to wait for the action-packed gory third act when Sybil goes on a bloody revenge and retribution trip. Too much time was foolishly wasted during the long set-up in the first two acts and there was poor pacing throughout. What it has going for it is Billingsley’s dazzling horror pic star performance.” Dennis Schwartz

“Bush’s direction really hones in on the horror of Sybil’s situation and you always feel like you’re seeing things through her eyes, even when the situations spiral out of her control. Genuinely unsettling and chilling, The Dark Red is a tour-de-force piece of genre cinema that deserves to become much more than just a cult classic.” Entertainment Focus

“Though it’s necessarily slow early on and doesn’t always succeed in sustaining the tension, The Dark Red is a smart little film with a more sophisticated understanding of its subject matter and more to say than past stories of this sort might lead you to expect.” Eye for Film

” …the film might benefit from some tightening up in the preceding scenes as the pacing can be distractingly uneven. Having said that, The Dark Red proves to be a well-made lo-fi drama/thriller with an intriguingly twisty plot and a convincing central performance from April Billingsley.” Horror DNA

“The flat visual style, structure and pacing […] give it the look and feel of a vintage made for TV American drama rather than the 70’s occult horror films to which it seems to aspire. Silly secondary characters do it no favours and it takes a fatal credibility plunge at a crucial moment when the audience is asked to accept an unintentionally amusing bit of Scooby-Doo-style wig-wearing subterfuge.” HorrorScreams VideoVault

“Even though Dark Red is a horror film with speculative elements and an ambiguous sense of reality, Bush still makes it feel very much grounded in the real world during the psycho-analysis sessions. There is actually a working-class vibe to the film that serves it well.” J. B. Spins

“It’s a simple enough story, but powerfully played by Billingsley – Sybil is bitter, sarcastic, sly, and cunning because she has to be to cope with her circumstances, though she’s aware that her attitudes aren’t calculated to enlist anyone to her side – and directed for maximum unease.” The Kim Newman Web Site


” …it’s nice to see a film tell a cohesive tale, one that keeps you guessing for the most part (in this case about what’s real and what isn’t) and then gives you a satisfying conclusion that joins all the dots strewn throughout its plot. And oh man, did The Dark Red do that brilliantly!” Nerdly

“The film’s finale reminded me why I admire Dan Bush as a filmmaker. As he proved with 2007’s The Signal, he is able to deliver pulse-pounding and suspenseful action sequences along with complex and dynamic characters. The end result is a highly entertaining film with a satisfying conclusion.” Wicked Horror


The Dark Red premiered at the 2018 Austin Film Festival in Texas on October 29. The film was shown at the 2019 Arrow Video FrightFest in London on 24th August 2019. Signature Entertainment released The Dark Red in the UK on Digital HD on 18th November 2019.

Cast and characters:

  • April Billingsley … Sybil Warren
  • Conal Byrne … David Hollyfield
  • Bernard Setaro Clark … Doctor Morales
  • Jill Jane Clements … Kathrine Warren
  • John Curran … William Holyfield
  • Rhoda Griffis … Rose Holyfield
  • Katie Hahn … Pregnant woman
  • Blaire Hillman … Woman in the purple coat
  • Robert Mello … Grieving Man
  • Robert Pralgo … CEO
  • Lake Roberts … Corporate lawyer #1
  • Sorrell Sanders … Suicidal woman
  • Kelsey Scott … Doctor Deluce
  • Celementine June SengStack … Young Sybil Warren
  • James Boone Sengstack … Sybil’s Baby


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