Red Riding Trilogy is an epic that doesn’t necessarily look like an epic, a trilogy of crime films where the murders are not the most insidious crimes perpetrated on screen. I review the DVD for the Turner Classic Movies website.
In the first scene of Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974, a young reporter covers a police press conference calling for information on a missing 10-year-old girl in West Yorkshire. Over the course of three feature films, which chronicle a decade in the shadow of fear, young girls continue to disappear and a few turn up, dead and in one case with swan wings sewn onto the back of the poor soul, as if to turn her into an angel in death. These murders haunt the films of this trilogy of features (adapted from a quartet of novels by author David Peace), hanging over each story while the police flail about, more concerned with public relations and protecting their power base than protecting their constituency. Until, that is, a serial killer dubbed The Yorkshire Ripper grabs headlines and embarrasses the department into action.
The Yorkshire Ripper and his five-year reign of terror is the real-life backdrop to the fictional story in this film trilogy, which was made for British television and subsequently released theatrically in the United States. While each film is helmed by a different director in a distinctly individual style and each features a different protagonist unique to that story, the trilogy is unified through a single screenwriter (Tony Grisoni) and production team, an extensive cast of characters that winds through the films and the murders that continue to terrorize the populace of West Yorkshire like a plague.