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“Red State” – Review (POSITIVE)

October 23, 2011

My Jersey filmmaker hero, Kevin Smith, has bounced back to awesomeness after his slump “Cop Out”, with this terrifying religious radical thriller, “Red State”. Smith is his own boss when it comes to his films. He writes, edits, directs, and will even act in them. So, it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise that he purchased the distribution rights at this year Sundance Film Festival.

Smith was taking a leap of faith, by taking this movie on the road hoping to earn back the $4 million by the following of his fans alike. And with Lionsgate purchasing the DVD/Bluray release rights, Smith would most certainly end up the champion. Many found it odd to hear from him that he was going to be doing a horror film. Original rumors circulated that it would be about the Jersey Devil (an old New Jersey urban legend) that would star Jason Mewes. Then, when the plot finally surfaced, it was sure to cause some split ends for viewers. The subject matter is a tricky one to promote, but an interesting one nevertheless.

Inspired by the radical Kansas native Reverend, Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, whose soul purpose is to curse out Homosexuals, and among other topics. This film focuses on a truly evil figure, Reverend Abin Cooper (Michael Parks), of the Five Point Star Church. Their soul purpose is to exterminate homosexuals and those who support gay rights. Three horny teenagers (Michael Angarano, Nicholas Braun, Kyle Gallner) decide to respond to an open sex ad, when they arrive to the woman’s home, they’re abducted, taken capture by Cooper & his family followers.

Things get truly gruesome when violent outbursts start up within the church, leading to an ATF Agents (John Goodman) arrival on the scene, with limited amount of back up.  A daylong firefight wages between religious nut jobs, the teen hostages, and the ATF. All of this leads up to a bizarre climax both sides would never see coming.

The great thing about Kevin Smith is his dialogue, much like Quentin Tarantino, these guys know how to write pitch perfect dialogue. In the end, when it comes down to that perfect dialogue, you need to find actors who can match up to that caliber. Michael Parks & John Goodman are those actors who lead this movie into the dramatic uproar it is intended to go to. Parks’ speech in the church is one of the most chilling monologues I’ve ever heard in a movie, especially in a horror film. As well is Goodman’s final monologue at the end of the film. I think it would be criminal of the Academy to NOT give Oscar nominations to both Parks & Goodman. The role of Cooper was tailored perfectly for Parks, and Goodman’s role was by far the best performance of his entire career.

The cinematography was unlike anything you’d ever see in a Kevin Smith movie. Smith made sure his cinematographer, David Klein, would pull out all the stops to make this an almost anti-Kevin Smith-like movie. It’s clear as day that’s what Smith wanted. So, as a fan of Kevin Smith movies, this surprised the hell out of me. The editing in this movie was the best from Smith. As it is known by all Viewaskew fans Smith edits his own films. The editing in this film is a pitch-perfect example showing that he’s matured as a filmmaker. Which is a shame, since Smith is claiming that this will be it for film (I call bullshit).

The movie itself, it’s not really a horror movie in the aspect of violence & pop out scares, sure it can get pretty violent, actually it comes to a point of being down right disturbing, but the real horror comes from the people, mostly from Cooper, the chilling chants he sings, and the crazy sermons he yells out. The finale of the battle of the church is sure to leave Goosebumps for many viewers.

GRADE: A

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One Comment leave one →
  1. trisha permalink
    January 8, 2012 12:39 am

    Michael Parks and John Goodman were great in Red State! If you’re a Parks fan, check out http://www.michaelparks4u.com. There are clips of almost all his movies and TV appearances since 1961. You can hear a lot of his songs there as well. Nothing is sold there- just a fan site to enjoy.

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