A genre piece bereft of pacing or any compelling raison d’etre (except that moms who produce snuff films probably shouldn’t have custody of their children), “The Red Siren” is an ambitious misfire from customarily savvy Gallic producer-distrib Haut & Court. Intended as a tale of redemption in which a mercenary ends up protecting a young girl on the lam from her powerful, debased mother, pic is an onslaught of mannered, overblown lensing.
Filmmakers mistakenly believe they’re exploring important themes as pic starts in “Eastern Europe … Wartime” and, post-credits, shifts to “Western Europe … Later.” Young Alice (Alexandra Negrao) asks for Det. Anita Staro (Asia Argento, quasi-credible) and hands over a CD-ROM of her missing nanny getting snuffed with a chainsaw. “My mother — she kills people,” insists Alice. “Untouchable” biz tycoon Eva K. (Frances Barber) wants her daughter back and sends a pan-European hit squad (led by thesp Jean-Marc Barr) to retrieve her. Bloodbaths ensue. English-lingo dialogue is perfunctory at best, cartoonish at worst. Script is adapted from the dense first novel by noirish cult sci-fi author Maurice G. Dantec.