For most of the runtime of Pascal Plante’s Red Rooms, we are unsure about what exactly Kelly-Anne, our protagonist, is up to, let alone the reason behind her activities. Yet, the film is incredibly engaging from the opening minute itself. In fact, the ambiguity about the central character, which is certainly a deliberate creative choice, works in the film’s favor. Even when Red Rooms ends, you are unsure about the true nature of Kelly-Anne, which ensures you will be spending so many hours on Reddit. I’m going to take a swing at simplifying things and, hopefully, helping you understand what’s really going on in Red Rooms.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Movie?
In the still of the night, Kelly-Anne wakes up in a back alley. After a walk in the streets of Montreal, she ends up at the courthouse, awaiting a murder trial to begin. The narrative of Red Rooms centers on the same trial as well as Kelly-Anne’s possibly unhealthy obsession with it—something we obviously figure out much later.
What Is The Murder Trial About?
I initially wrote this question as “Who is the Demon of Rosemont?”. But considering the film rightfully stands against romanticizing as well as fetishizing psychopathic serial killers, that wouldn’t have been right. In fact, I am really digging this new trend of dehumanizing serial killers. Very recently, there was this FX series, A Murder at the End of the World, where a character went vocal about this and extensively spoke about the importance of treating a vicious criminal like a “criminal” only.
Back to Red Rooms, the crime in question is as terrible as you could imagine. Three young girls, Kim, Justine, and Camille, all minors and school students, are raped, murdered, and mutilated, and the crimes are allegedly committed by this forty-something man, Ludovic Chevalier, who is being labeled as the “Demon of Rosemont.” There is substantial evidence against him, and the prosecutor from the crown (that’s what it is called in Quebec), Yasmine Chedid, is hell-bent on giving justice to the victims. She opens with a vivid description of all the allegations against Chevalier, which doesn’t stop at the murder and torture but goes up to the extent of making videos and auctioning those on the dark web, specifically in a place called ‘Red Rooms’, where the wealthiest of the people lurk around for extremely sadistic forms of entertainment. As prosecutor Chedid keeps describing, the camera slowly moves around the courtroom and focuses on both Chevalier and Kelly-Anne. The former appears to be completely nonchalant, while it’s impossible to figure out anything from Kelly-Anne’s face. Juliette Gariépy, the actor who plays the part of Kelly-Anne, has done exceptionally well by keeping a poker face for most of the movies, which, I suppose, has added a layer of confusion.
Once Prosecutor Chedid is done with her opening statement, Chevalier’s attorney, Fortin, an older man possibly in his late fifties, presents his side of the argument. It basically says that all the evidence against Chevalier is circumstantial, and even the masked man in two of the found videos—Kim and Justin’s—just happens to have a similar build and blue eyes as Chevalier. Fortin seems to be very confident and convincing. He even points out that the judge himself has similar blue eyes, like the perpetrator in the video and Chevalier.
Who Is Clementine, And What Does She Want?
Although the character appears as someone with no intentions of harming anyone, it’s really hard to feel anything for Clementine—unless you’ve been a groupie. It can as well be said that people like Clem (that’s what I’m going to call her from now on) are the result of pop culture’s endless glorification of serial killers. Not that I’m completely blaming the media for somebody being a groupie, but the part that it plays can’t also be completely ignored. Attending the trial believing Chevalier is innocent, Clem goes to the extent of calling Chevalier a “victim” of the system. She does feel for the families of the three girls, but she is certain that Chevalier is not responsible for what happened to them.
As Red Rooms continues to surprise the audience, the unlikely friendship between Clem and Kelly-Anne is always on the cards. These two bonding over Chevalier and ending up eating pizza inside Kelly-Anne’s swanky apartment is not something I saw coming, but that’s exactly where the narrative goes. And it’s surprisingly effective to see Clem getting visibly frustrated at a television show bashing Chevalier and even calling them to voice her support for him.
What’s Kelly-Anne’s Deal, Really?
Does Red Rooms sort of trick you into believing that Kelly-Anne is somehow associated with either Chevalier or any of the victims? I’m only raising the question because the thought crossed my mind in the first half an hour. But as time goes by, we do realize that Kelly-Anne has zero association with this case. She just happens to be someone who has taken an unhealthy interest in the matter, so much so that she wouldn’t mind sleeping in the back alley even when she has a really great apartment, only to reach the courthouse sooner. She clearly doesn’t want to miss out on anything, just like I absolutely hate missing a single second of a movie theater experience—even the annoying advertisements.
Kelly-Anne is not only an interested third party; she is well-versed in the nitty-gritties of digital media. She knows where to look for things and how to get there, all by sitting behind computer screens. We don’t get to know if she’s self-taught or has any sort of degree. Kelly-Anne being a professional model might seem like a curveball thrown at the audience, but it is also completely understandable considering the fact that whatever she pursues in her personal life would actually need a lot of financial aid. Also, I don’t mean to objectify, but Juliette Gariépy’s beauty has a lot to do with selling Kelly-Anne as a model to the audience. There have been so many instances of movies casting someone who doesn’t really fit the bill as per the conventional beauty standards. This is a subjective matter, but Red Rooms should be used as a 101 for right casting.
Kelly-Anne gives all the possible vibes of a lone wolf, yet she is genuinely nice to Clem. Not only does she let her stay with her, she even presents her with a racket. Clem is more than grateful to find a friend in Kelly-Anne, but the question that might arise here is: why would someone like Kelly-Anne be friends with Clem? It might be a mix of both empathy and loneliness. Kelly-Anne clearly likes it that Clem is there and pretty much enjoys her company. But it also doesn’t matter for her when Clem leaves after finding out Kelly-Anne is in possession of those two videos and then voluntarily watching them.
How Does The Trial Reach Its Conclusion?
Red Rooms not only confuses us about Kelly-Anne, but it also plays a trick card with the character of Camille’s mother, Francine. She is the most vocal amongst all the grieving parents, and she continues to fight for justice and take a stand against groupies like Clem, but it also seems like something is off about her. We do see her from Kelly-Anne’s perspective, but the problem is we don’t really understand what’s going on inside our protagonists’ heads either. As far as Chevalier goes, he has absolutely no dialogue in the entire film, which I consider to be a master stroke.
Kelly-Anne’s interest in Francine and her scouring the internet, using every possible tool to find Francine’s address, become self-explanatory when she sneakily delivers the video of Camille getting tortured. That video is enough to exterminate Chevalier, who ultimately pleads guilty. But the most significant aspect of the movie is how Kelly-Anne acquired the video by herself. As the trial goes on, we see Kelly-Anne getting obsessive over it with each passing day. This leads to her losing out on a modeling assignment and eventually being professionally cut off by everyone. That clearly seems to not bother her, as we see her cosplaying as Camille, which creates a stir in the courtroom. Kelly-Anne is obviously thrown out after pulling a stunt like that, but interestingly, that’s the only time we see any sort of reaction from Chevalier. Although it can also be Kelly-Anne imagining the murderer flipping her the bird.
Is Kelly-Anne Crazy?
Let us look into the film first. It’s not particularly hard to deduce that the Red Rooms‘ major agenda is to run a social commentary on people’s obsession with true crime as well as shed light on a kind of voyeurism. It’s sick to even imagine people getting turned on by watching a minor get brutally tortured, but that’s the world we live in. Things like red rooms wouldn’t exist if people didn’t have such kinks. Another thing that Red Rooms establishes is that it’s the rich who get to indulge in everything terrible. Kelly-Anne could only win the bidding war because she has enough money to go the distance in the online auction. This is, of course, an implication of capitalism controlling everything, and we are all falling victim to that. Not that we can do anything significant about it, but some kind of awareness can actually help. There is strong social commentary in Red Rooms about all sorts of social, political, and sexual things, but they manage to keep it very subtle.
Coming to Kelly-Anne, I don’t think labeling someone as “crazy” is appropriate. In some ways, every human being has some dormant craziness inside them. Kelly-Anne is obviously not someone you’d come across every now and then, but calling her crazy is not quite right. A lot of her activities are questionable, and whether she is a good person or a sadist can be a very good question. In fact, I actually saw people fighting over it when I went for a quick stroll around you-know-where. One argument was particularly focused on the fact that when she broke into Francine’s house, she went to Camille’s room and took a selfie. This might just mean that Kelly-Anne fetishizes the idea of getting tortured by Chevalier or any serial killer in general. Another theory is that she is having a severe identity crisis and adapting one particular personality. Do you remember her running through her own modeling pictures a number of times in the movie? And even when she’s not shooting, her facial expressions remain similar to the kind of expression she has in those photos. But when her professional career took a dive, she went full-unhinged and showed up in the courtroom as Camille, hinting that she was trying to emulate the personality of the dead thirteen-year-old now. There’s another argument over Kelly-Anne’s own voyeurism, which is based on how she enjoys looking at the videos while at the same time, we see Clem getting visibly upset by it. However, if you consider the fact that Kelly-Anne is mostly expressionless throughout the movie, her lack of reaction while watching the videos would seem pretty normal. There’s no sign of excitement or pleasure in her face; at least I couldn’t find any. We also need to consider that this is a person who literally ruined her own professional career and did everything in her power to get the one piece of evidence which proved that Chevalier indeed was guilty. Shouldn’t that be considered an act of ultimate selflessness?
Keeping all these in mind, I don’t think it’s possible to reach a proper conclusion when it comes to “who Kelly-Anne really is.” The most logical answer would be that she’s an extremely high-functioning psychopath, but with good intentions. And this is where the success of Red Rooms lies. Even after Red Rooms ends, it doesn’t leave your head. You keep pondering over Kelly-Anne and the reason behind her actions, along with all the terrible things in the world we live in. Isn’t that what should be considered proper “cinema”?