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Red Flag

by Apple Fork

A single man at a speed dating event navigates red flags while hiding one of his own.


This is so true but what were you trying to say, i laughed, i cringed and i oh wait gush Enjoyed!

2nd place at the national final in 2021, on first viewing I think Apple Fork have made an even better film this year and this pitch perfect black comedy is going to be incredibly hard to beat come the business end of the competition. The team got the Anniversary genre, which they nailed, but they also made the best comedy of errors film in the competition this year.

Allow me to explain, you see the film is framed on something very dark and sinister that leads to a wrong place, wrong time scenario. It is not a murphy's law anything that can go wrong sort of film but one with a central plot framing device that immediately engages the audience.

From the boisterous and bold colourful host of the speed dating event, through the gauntlet of willing participants ranging from a man so nervous he adjusts his tie and sputters self-depreciating wrong through to an aggressive submissive who wants to be punished, the script is on point and every performance is exceptionally well directed.

The edit I could go on about for days. Absolutely silky buttery smooth and yet with the cinematic coverage needed to convey everything in exactly the right way. A tight medium shot for a struggle in the car. A warmly lit wide shot that showcases several hopeful romantics with a warm tone. Close ups that rely on just the right expression from the actors. Every moment of interest as to what is going to happen next; you had my hooked from the start and never let go.

The sound was also so clean, with glasses tinkling and screams reacting set at just the right volume. Technically pretty perfect in terms of what you shot.

The kicker as to why this may well win the whole thing, for me is that as incredibly dark and sinister as the central plot framing device is, the want for people to be happy is something incredibly universal and relatable. But do watch out for those red flags...

Story: 5/5
Technical: 5/5
Elements: 4/5
Overall: 5/5

Apple Fork are always good to watch, but I think this is my favourite of theirs so far. Acting, locations, script, story were all tight with just the right tone to be sincere when it needed to be and funny when it needed to be. Awesome.

This was an absolute stunner of a film! Acting, editing, camera, lighting, sound and script all completely on point.

And a few 'hey! I know who that actor is!' moments always ups the game as well.

I can certainly see this one appearing in the last few places in the competition finals this year, if not winning the whole thing :)


There's no doubt at all that this is a professionally made film in all aspects - cinematography, sound, acting, editing, direction; it's all a slick combination that will see Apple Fork if not just winning Auckland but going hard once more at the National Final. And story-wise, what's not to like - a dark, unexpected beginning, quirky characters, funny moments and a general darkness hanging over the whole situation. In many ways, it's a "so typically winning 48HR film". If it weren't Apple Fork making this it's something I'd expect to see from THE EH TEAM/SNACK TO THE FUTURE. And, it poses a few questions too...

Unlike, Steelpotato I don't see this situation as a random set of events, wrong place/wrong time, or unexpected situation. Why does he kill the boyfriend in the first place? Why does he head to the cafe/bar and not GTFO of there? Why is he really unsurprised when the woman of his dreams heads to the car? All of this seems rather premeditated albeit amateur in approach - I mean how much evidence did he leave behind in the car? Yes, he was surprised to find himself at a speed date evening, but I don't think it was accidental that he went to THAT café/bar. To be clear, I think all of this is great - deeply sinister but great!

And on that, we have seen quite a few films this year with sinister/selfish motives - almost unbelievable crimes of passion where we have to buy into the actions taken being a plausible reaction to some perceived or real wrong. I mean, what did the boyfriend do wrong in this film? He was on his phone and then about to leave? Why was he killed if not for some ulterior motive rather than a random act of violence? The “fuck you” is also surely a further signal of this. And I’d also assert that the exchange of numbers strongly suggests that our lead knew of this woman – otherwise why would he be certain of “things changing”? (I do realise she says to a friend that her ride is waiting)

Speed dating is right up there with self-help/counselling groups as well overused in this competition, so I did a slight groan when this started. The montage of dates is pretty stock-standard - "the over-talker/offended"; "the sexually aggressive"; "the spiritual one" before the perfect one. It’s all done exceptionally well though.

I’ve perhaps over-scrutinised the story here but for me, there’s just too much coincidence otherwise. It’s a film that easily stands on its own outside the competition. It has a clear structure and a satisfying (albeit selfish & deceitful) ending. The Anniversary genre aspect is a bit of a throw-away given that it’s tacked on at the end rather than driving the story but as I’ve mentioned in other reviews, it’s a genre with limitations.

Instantly rewatchable and bound for glory.

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