I’ve been following the production of this film since Smith starting talking about on Smodcast and the Red State Q and A’s Podcast so I’ve been anticipating this film for quite awhile. For the most part, it lived up to the expectations I had.
The opening 20 minutes is much like the Kevin Smith films of old. Three young guys (Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner and Nicholas Braun) hanging around talking about getting laid. However, the film quickly veers into a completely different genre when the young boys show up at Sarah’s (Melissa Leo) for a four-way. The boys are captured and taken to The Five Points Trinity Church where it becomes a fight for survival. Meanwhile, John Goodman’s Special Agent Keenan and his group of ATF agents are attempting to siege the church.
The best part if the films comes in Michael Parks’ Pastor Abin Cooper. The worst thing about Cooper is that he believes, without a shadow of a doubt, that he is doing God’s work and he twists the Bible to justify his actions. At one point, he states that there is indeed a commandment that states do not kill, however, it does not apply to what he calls “germs” (homosexuals). With Cooper being so well written by Smith, the audience can’t help but hang on every word he says, particularly when Cooper is giving his 10/15 sermon. Cooper is saying some truly awful things yet I found myself listening intently to what he had to say. This says wonders about Parks’ performance, he brings this awful man to life and he manages to have the audience hanging on his every syllable.
As soon as they boys have been captured, the film is pretty much non stop action, slowing down in just the right places giving the characters and the audience a chance to breath. For someone who hasn’t directed much in the way of action, Smith handles these scenes quite well. What adds to this is the sense that no one is safe in this firefight and it’s quite possible anybody could die.
One of the problems I had with the film is there is no real protagonist. At the start of the film, the audience assumes that the three boys are the protagonists as the films opens with their journey to Cooper’s Dell. However, as each of the boys is subsequently killed off halfway through, the film changes protagonist to John Goodman and his attempts to subdue the members of the church. It could also be argued that Cheyenne is a protagonist for part of the film as well. The lack of a central protagonist does hinder the film slightly because there is no one character for the audience to latch onto.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It’s one of Smith better films, it’s not up there with Chasing Amy but it is a very daring film that is not afraid to talk about some very touchy subject.s It’s a shame that Smith says he is going to retire after his next film. I’d be very interested to see what this ‘new and improved’ Smith has to offer.
If you haven’t seen it yet, Kevin Smith’s movie Red State is one of the best and scariest movies I have seen in along time. The main actor, Michael Parks (the guy I painted) gives an AMAZING performance, and I felt like I needed to paint him.
Kevin Smith’s experimental film Red State takes the hatemongers of the Westboro Baptist Church and turns them up to eleven by trading the picket signs in for guns, with Michael Parks leading the pack as Abin Cooper, their Leader, Preacher and all around fucking scary dude in the best performance of the year. The man deserves an Oscar for the lengthy hate speech in the beginning of the flick alone, He’s just mesmerizing in the role.
Without giving much away, all ill say is that every time you think you know what direction the movie is going to take it does a complete 180 and fucks you.
At the end of the day, Red State is bittersweet because as good as it is (very), with the recent announcement that Kevin Smith will be retiring from the director’s chair, it’s one of his last flicks but at least he’s going out on the highest of notes.
Red State is not only the best Kevin Smith movie, but its a DAMN good horror movie, with a plot that keeps you guessing right up until the very end and at least one Oscar worthy performance.