• Red Krokodil

    Released by: Unearthed Films
    Released on: January 23rd, 2018.
    Director: Domiziano Cristopharo
    Cast: Brock Madson, Valerio Cassa, Viktor Karam
    Year: 2012
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    The Movies:

    Domiziano Cristopharo’s 2012 picture Red Krokodil follows the life of a nameless man (Brock Madon) who suffers from a severe addiction to a drug called krokodil. When his story begins, the man wakes up to find himself completely alone in a large city that appears to have been subjected to some sort of nuclear disaster. As his body begins to decay from the substance abuse he can no longer control, so too do his surroundings.

    As he drifts in and out of consciousness, really only ‘waking up’ to cook up his next fix, we see what may or may not be hallucinations on his part. As they mix with his reality, we realize that not only has this man lost his mind and body to the drug, but he’s also become completely detached from the outside world.

    Written by Francesco Scardone, Red Krokodile takes a very unflinching look at the effects of the very real drug that the film’s only real inhabitant is so clearly hooked on. A text piece that opens the film brings us quickly up to speed on the basics – krokodile is a very real problem in Russia, it’s ingredients still very easy for pretty much anyone to obtain. Named for its ability to create repulsive, scale-like wounds on those who are foolish enough to tamper with it, the drug is well known for its ability to eat away at both mind and body.

    The film shows, very graphically, the effects of the drug on our character. It’s gross, to be sure, but do some quick reading up on the reality of the its effects and you’ll quickly realize that as disgusting as it might be, it doesn’t seem at all far off from how it works in the real world. The odd thing is, we’re not dealing with the real world in this particular film, at least not yet. Why Cristopharo set his film after a nuclear apocalypse isn’t really clear. It does make for an interesting setting for the film to play out in and it certainly adds to the picture’s already remarkably grim aesthetic, but it doesn’t seem to add much of anything to the narrative. As far as the story itself goes, Red Krokodile comes up fairly light in that department. The movie relies more on visuals, tone and atmosphere to communicate with the audience and in many ways, it is one of those films that works more as an experience that an exercise in narrative constructs.

    Brock Madon gives a pretty brave performance. This isn’t a flattering role by anyone’s standards. His character has hit rock bottom, he’s frequently wallowing in his own filth, his apartment is in shambles, he’s often naked, his many festering wounds exposed to the elements when they’re not covered in equally dirty looking bandages. We have no trouble buying him as a junkie, his very physical performance is convincing. Production values are decent enough. Some of the CGI used in the film is a little dodgy but Cristopharo does a pretty good job of playing to what he has, keeping the scale of the film reasonably intimate. The look of the picture is as bleak as its content, often times the movie is almost entirely devoid of color, but in the context of what we’re seeing, that seems appropriate.


    The 1.85.1 widescreen transfer, presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, looks like you expect it’s supposed to look. This is a grim film and that’s reflected very much in the visuals, which are often devoid of natural color and very desaturated looking for much of the movie’s running time. There’s no print damage here as the movie was shot digitally, but there’s a gritty, grubby vibe to the whole thing that is very much reflected in the look of the picture. The transfer is free of compression artifacts or any related anomalies, though if you look for it you might spot some mild banding here and there. Detail varies from scene to scene. It tends to be at its most impressive when the film is ‘going for the gross out,’ meaning that when our lead is using the drug we see it all. Other times, things are intentionally shrouded in darkness, but again, it’s clear that this was intentional on the part of the filmmakers.

    Aside from some very brief voiceover work, the audio is primarily made up of a strange musical soundscape that the LPCM 2.0 stereo track handles with no issues. Those brief spoken parts are easy enough to understand, the levels are properly balanced and what not. As to the music, it’s clearly meant to be unnerving and on that level, it’s effective. At the same time, there are also stretches where the music used is quite beautiful, almost serene sounding. It’s an eclectic selection to be sure, but it suits the tone of the film rather well.

    Extras start off with a two-and-a-half-minute long alternate music ending where a completely different score plays over the finale in place of the voiceover work that is used in the feature version. It’s an interesting way to finish the film, in some ways more effective than what they ultimately chose to go with. Aside from that, we get nine-minutes of deleted scenes, a ninety-second CGI test, a still gallery, a trailer for the feature, trailers for some other Unearthed Films releases, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Red Krokodil is a decidedly bizarre picture, a more than grim foray into the world of addiction skewed through a unique arthouse style. It offers up plenty of food for thought, if little in the way of answers, and should appeal to those with a taste for the less conventional side of cult cinema. Unearthed Films’ Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good and contains a few decent supplements as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      I noticed that some underground/independent movies of 2012 get their releases 5-6 years later like this. Do you happen to know about Michael Patrick Stevens' Brutal? I asked because I really wonder will Unearthed Films release this obscure Oregon-made horror?