38: Red State

Red State – September 1, 2011
Starring: Kyle Gallner, Michael Angarano, Nicholas Braun, Michael Parks, John Goodman, Melissa Leo
Written and directed by: Kevin Smith

The plot: “Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.” – IMDB

My thoughts: Well, I really dig Kevin Smith and his movies. And usually, his movies are heavily comedic, Red State is definitely a deviation from that. It’s a movie about crazy Christian (Baptist?) cults and the crazy shit they do in the name of their Lord. I would venture to say that the inspiration for this type of film may have started when the Phelps family/Westboro Baptist Church protested his movie Dogma in 1999. If you don’t know who they are, check them out – they’re insane.

I personally liked the movie. It was actually an interesting and realistic take on a modern-day horror film. They aren’t masked people who get their rocks off by killing kids, they’re families and an old, grizzled preacher – giant assholes but ultimately harmless. Only this group isn’t exactly. And the fact is, extreme religious cults exist in America. Do they do stuff like this? I hope not.

It’s definitely a Kevin Smith movie in terms of dialogue – you can’t help but laugh at parts, whether they’re actually funny or at the sheer absurdity of it. At one point, Father Cooper (Michael Parks) asks Sarah (Melissa Leo) to go get him some sweet tea, all while they stand at a window, wielding AK-47s and shotguns, shooting at ATF agents. That’s some classic Kevin Smith stuff right there.

My only real qualm with this movie is that a lot of the characters came off as being very two-dimensional. The three teen guys were simple – first they were just horny teenagers, and then they were angry/scared teenagers who wanted to get away. They were never allowed to grow. All of the people in the church were brainwashed and never showed any personality. Even Father Cooper was just plain old crazy.

One thing I liked is that Kevin Smith wasn’t afraid to be a bit of a downer and kill off loads of people. To me, it seemed to end on a somewhat realistic note – not that I’m truly in the know when it comes to religious cults and how the government interacts with them but it’s something I could see happening. Plus, Smith has an off-screen cameo right at the end which is something kind of fun!

All in all, I enjoyed the movie. It was interesting and something out of the ordinary for the day. For dealing with a somewhat serious topic, it isn’t too crazy heavy, but it is just a little bit dark.

Stars: 4/5


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