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Red State (2011)

  Tags: cult, Dermot Mulroney, drama, fundamentalism, John Goodman, Kevin Pollak, Kevin Smith, Kyle Gallner, Melissa Leo, Michael Angarano, Michael Parks, political, Red State, relgious, religion, Stephen Root, thriller, View Askew Productions

Your rating: None Average: 6.8 (4 votes)
Reviewer Rating: 
6

redstateposternew.jpg
Rating #: 
6/10
Director: 
Kevin Smith
Runtime: 
88 minutes
Cast: 
Michael Angarano, Dermot Mulroney, Kyle Gallner, Stephen Root, Melissa Leo, Michael Parks, Kevin Pollak, John Goodman


Those familiar with Kevin Smith's work knows that he normally delivers dramas and comedies, so it was a bit of a surprise when it was announced that his next project would be a "political horror film" known as Red State. This is definitely an unconventional piece, and even calling it a "horror film" will likely spark a little debate, as it's not really a clear-cut effort we normally see within the genre. I liked the movie to an extent, but also found it rather pointless in the end.

The story follows a few horny teenage friends on their way to meet an older woman supposedly offering free sex with the boys. They meet her at a secluded trailer, where she loads them up on alcohol that's mixed with drugs, which expectedly knocks them out in a matter of minutes. While two of the friends are tied together in a crawl space under the church, the remaining friend wakes up in a small animal cage, where he's forced to listen to an extensive hate-filled rant by the crazed Pastor Cooper. After a long religious-fuelled tirade, his subordinates mercilessly shot an accused gay man bound on a large cross with saran wrap. And now, it's the boys turn..

While I wouldn't specifically call this a horror film, the first half does deliver a lot of recognizable elements, especially the whole aspect of being captured, tortured, and killed -- themes definitely within the confines of the genre. However, once the ATF is introduced in the 2nd half, the film turns into more of an action thriller with minor political elements. The crazy religious zealots eager to use knives on the sinners of the world quickly turn into gun-toting maniacs that decide to hold up in their little compound and take on the intruding ATF.

First off, the flick's biggest strengths definitely lie within the excellent performances from both John Goodman as the head ATF agent and Michael Parks as the fanatical Pastor Cooper. Parks' 15-minute speech to his followers about the world's sinners and the sad state of things today was incredibly passionate and effective in making the viewer really despise everything about his character. Although I did like the movie to a certain degree, the leading issue I had with it would be how it doesn't have any likeable or relatable characters.

For instance, you want to root for the boys, because you immediately hate these religious fools and want to see them all die, but Smith doesn't let the lads grow on us long enough to care what their outcome is. As the movie progresses it becomes more apparent that there's absolutely no one to really like. Then we're given an abrupt and almost random climax that personally left me wondering, "is that really it?".

From what I read there was an alternate ending that Smith planned, which involved the Rapture actually happening, with the skies turning red and Angels coming down and violently smiting everyone in sight. As badass as that ending would've been, it was financially impossible given the movie's limited budget. It's a shame since it would've definitely been an awesome ending to a rather mediocre movie.

Red State is a decent effort and although it isn't necessary a horror movie, it does have some horrific elements. A couple outstanding performances and a series of unconventional actions make this flick stand out, but with all its unlikable characters and its underwhelming climax, I couldn't help but feel as though everything I witnessed was rather pointless. This is not something I'd specifically recommend unless you're looking for an alternative to the usual "horror" venture.

Posted on October 29, 2011 - 5:49pm | FrighT MasteR

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