If it's crap ... We'll tell you
If someone were to tell me to watch a horror movie involving monsters and ghosts; I would probably be less interested. Now, if someone were to tell me to watch a horror movie involving extreme religious fundementalists; I would be hooked. Why? Because it's more real than anything these days. The days of B-movie 70-80 horror movies are over; now, you have to use more realistic approaches to not only scare a audience, but make them feel horrible. Red State does that and paints a dark portrait of the grim realities of what Kevin Smith thinks is wrong with America. This isn't as preachy as it is ultimatley true. And man has Kevin Smith ever been great a filmmaker as before. This is probably his great masterpiece as after years of low-brow raunchie comedies; he has turned over a new leaf and made something so non-Kevin Smith that made me think if he was the one who directed it.
What follows his a trio of young, horny teenagers in pursuit of having sex when they meet someone on the internet to promise them that. As they venture into a remote area they soon are captured by a group of right-wing christian/ Fred Phelps fundementalists as they are bound and gagged to hear Pastor Abin Cooper(Michael Parks) speak the truth of the indecencies of america's culture and the human race as a whole. They intend on making a point by torturing and killing any phornicating, homosexual oriented deviants. But soon their plans go awry as ATF Agent Keenan(John Goodman) and his soldiers come to investigate; things turn to a bloodbath and mayhem ensues. I don't want to spoil more as the film does go places you don't expect but let me just say that it was as unexpected as it was refreshing.
While some may bash the film for going out against and over-sentationalizing right-wing conservatives and some argue that its unbiased; one thing is for sure; the film has no protagonsits. The film shows everyone in a negative and more truly human life ways. While the church group may be painted as crazy, psychotic terrorists, the heros are no good either. What is true are the amazing performances given by the cast. Micheal Parks is phenominal as the leader of this group as he chews every sceen with his hate-filled religious propaganda while still maintaing his composure as playing this crazy zelout. He may seem as he's playing it up for laughs with his southern accent, yet, he never goes goofy. He is precise on how to play the character that I do believe he should be considered for an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. To me, no one could have played it better and you don't see these types of performances as it can be too controversial. Even Mellisa Leo as the crazy daughter of Abin and John Goodman as the team ATF leader are excellent. Heck, even Kevin Pollack has some funny moments with the screen time he has.
But Kevin Smith is the real star here. Never would you think the Clerks guy could make a horror/thriller film after so many years of making nothing but comedies. Some of the dialogue do have some jokes yet it never sounds like Smith's normal writing. Made on such a microscopic budget, it has the feel of a professionally made film. It differs from the style Smith has been used and goes into a crazy/kinetic energy you never felt in his films before. Even the action is well done as its not too flashy; just natural. Smith classify's this as a horror film when most would see it as a thriller. I would say this is sort of horrish the first act cause the ideas it shows are truly scary as it can be true. But it never goes exploitative. The horror is tense and quick and never flashy.
This movie is mostly unbiased. In here, no one is painted as a innocent person. The ideas of crazy religious zelouts killing people is not fake. It's horrifically realistic as the ideas of freedom of speech is shows and the very core of middle-america's problems. However, while Smith may have seemed to score a home-run, he does suffer from wrapping up the film. The ending while trying to squeeze and resolve all the ideas, it does faulter with completley resolving everything. The last conclusion feels sort of forced and that maybe with more time, it could have wrapped up perfectly. I won't considered this as a major problem since I understood what it was trying to say; yet it might bother some people.
You don't see these types of films ever. Any producer might shudder at the idea of it. I applaud Smith for trying something very new and unique that it made for a very thrilling and entertaining film. I do recommend people do see this. Its possibly my favorite film of the year and possibly my favorite from Smith. And people, F.Y.I. this type of stuff has happened before. In fact, there were parts in the movie where it reminded me of that event that it made me think if Smith might have been inspired by that as well as the Fred Phelps group. For those who have seen it and wonder what I mean; do your research on Waco, Texas 1993. You'll see what I'm talking about. And even with that knowledge made this film all the more realistic for me.
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