E. L. King says that Francesca Scorsese's Crimson Ties is somewhat derivative at first glance.
[THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS]
Crimson Ties, written by Savannah Braswell and directed by Francesca Scorsese is a somewhat derivative take on the slumber party massacre that sadly doesn't deliver anything of particular interest at first glance. The horror short incoherently guides viewers through seven minutes with a young girl, Elle (Carleigh Johnston), forced into attending a weekend of underaged debauchery with her older sister Jules (Petra McGregor) and a group of Jule's teenage girlfriends. While the film failed to captivate me with its story and performances, it is visually stunning thanks to Samuel Wright Smith's gorgeous cinematography, Sam Schrag's visual effects, and Rafael Souza's editing.
When a 10-year-old girl is forced to spend the weekend with her older sister and her wild friends, she becomes drawn to a pendant hidden in the house, and the night takes a deadly turn for the worse.
After discovering a crimson pendant, Elle is consumed with bloodlust, murdering all of the older girls at the party as they giggle with intoxication from drugs and alcohol. Elle's final kill appears to be an homage to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), and I can appreciate the use of tropes. Elle awakens from her death dream the following day with all the girls alive and everything open to audience interpretation. Perhaps the slaughter is a young girl's fierce opposition to growing up too fast.
The film may resonate as a coming-of-age "crimson wave" horror story where a young girl is forced into womanhood before she's ready—be that due to menstruation, engaging in sex, or drinking for the first time—but deciphering its message is taxing. It wouldn't be the first time getting your period was referred to as "bloody murder," Elle does just that while in a catatonic state. While the crimson pendant plays a role, whether possession or premonition, it felt like an irrelevant anchor to the story. Scorsese shows promise as a filmmaker with her short feature debut, but Crimson Ties suffers from a lack of narrative clarity, forcing audiences to view it several times in order to derive any meaning from it.
Crimson Ties world premiered online at the Tribeca Festival on June 8, 2022.