TV Review: ‘The Red Road’

The Red Road Sundance TV Review

Continuing Sundance Channel’s very European approach to drama, “The Red Road” grinds along slowly, a mere six-episode series with the same languid pace as the network’s earlier foray, “Rectify.” In this later case, the format doesn’t entirely work, although it does create enough tension — thanks in large part to the scary, visually imposing presence of “Game of Thrones” alum Jason Momoa — to pull the audience along through this “Road’s” modest twists and turns. While certainly not bad, the series would be better if it came with fewer built-in speed bumps, and a little more narrative momentum.

Momoa plays Phillip, an ex-con who grew up on a Native-American reservation, and who looks like the last guy in the world anyone would want to mess with even when he’s standing perfectly still. “Did you kill him in the house?” he asks a slightly twitchy friend, merely part of the underlying mysteries that series creator Aaron Guzikowski (working with showrunner Bridget Carpenter) exhibits little interest in rushing to disgorge.

The central conflict, meanwhile, stems from a relationship between Phillip’s little brother (Kiowa Gordon), a virtual stranger to him; and Rachel (Allie Gonino), the daughter of Harold (Martin Henderson), a local sheriff in Walpole, N.J.

Harold’s wife (Julianne Nicholson) is none too happy about this across-the-tracks romance, and her mental troubles begin leading the characters down a path rife with tragic consequences, slicked by the fact that Phillip is engaged in nefarious activities on behalf of his grizzled father (Tom Sizemore), making his interactions with Harold all the more suspect and uncomfortable. Having grown up in the same small town, there’s also an element of history that adds wrinkles to the story.

Like “Rectify,” six episodes is probably more than enough to get a sense of whether the concept is working. But getting by on mood-centric atmosphere is a delicate balancing act, and while Momoa projects the aura of a very mercurial dude who might go off at a moment’s notice, dangling the threat without much in the way of action only goes so far. (Lisa Bonet, incidentally, joins the show in the third episode.)

Credit Sundance with rather quickly finding a tone that distinguishes the channel from other players in the drama game, dabbling in an indie-film sensibility that dovetails with the movies it offers.

Still, there is a distinction between daring to follow a road less traveled and actually delivering a series that makes viewers want to hang around, even if it’s just for the short haul.

TV Review: 'The Red Road'

(Series; Sundance Channel, Thurs. Feb. 27, 9 p.m.)


Filmed in Georgia by Kopus Prods.


Executive producers, Aaron Guzikowski, Sarah Condon, Bridget Carpenter; producer, Jim Bigwood; co-producer, Zack Whedon; director, James Gray; writer, Guzikowski; camera, Ivan Strasburg; production designer, Kitty Doris-Bates; editor, Kristina Boden; music, Daniel Licht; casting, Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein. 60 MIN.


Martin Henderson, Jason Momoa, Julianne Nicholson, Tamara Tunie, Annalise Basso, Allie Gonino, Kiowa Gordon, Lisa Bonet, Tom Sizemore

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  1. Angeleno says:

    “dabbling in an indie-film sensibility that dovetails with the movies it offers”

    Guess you haven’t taken a look at the commercial-crammed movies Sundance is showing these days. Most of them wouldn’t recognize “indie-film sensibility” if it bit them. Not to mention the replays of “Law and Order.”

    The only reason I haven’t completely removed Sundance from my channel line-up is that I find some of their series sort of interesting, including “The Red Road.” It’s intriguing enough to at least give it a chance.

  2. Mike Ford says:

    I love as a Native person how all of these White people are now writing about the Ramapough
    Lenni-Luunape people. No real facts necessary. Just make up stuff and be like Billy Jack right?

  3. vance says:

    guess will have to wait and see. all the raves of true detective on hbo and most of the time I fall asleep during the first watch and rewatch it at a later date. that one plods along and everyone thinks it’s great. I will give this one a chance too.

  4. edward sawadeekhrap says:

    I watched 15 minutes and turned it off. I am sick of America’s schizophrenic attraction to evil and its personification

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