A review of “Redacted” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: ***

Rating: R for extremely disturbing violence and language

Run Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes



Horror-meister Brian De Palma tackles a different kind of terror in this disturbing and controversial docu-drama.

“Redacted” visually documents imagined events before, during and after a 2006 rape and murder in the northern Iraqi city of Samarra. A sadistic crime perpetrated by an American soldier upon an innocent teen.

What starts as an experiment – a corps of Army buddies documenting their existence in a visual diary that will help their cameraman gain entrance to USC film school – gradually goes dark as the soldiers react to the heat, the sounds, the smells and the ugly realities of life in Iraq.

An itchy handheld captures the daily grind of keeping a lid on insurgent traffic at a local checkpoint and reconnaissance missions to area homes to flush out terrorists. During a routine check a couple bad apples go postal, raping a 15-year old girl and slaughtering her mother, sister and grandfather.

These inhuman atrocities and their aftermath are captured via a patchwork of multimedia feeds; video postings, smart phones and digital cameras. The locals get their revenge with vicious and startling alacrity; a thoroughly disquieting counterpoint.

Amidst the horror De Palma has achieved a fresh level of perspective; the psychological wounds of war as seen through the eyes of the damaged and eternally damned.