Red State (2011)
Director: Kevin Smith
Michael Parks/Pastor Copper
John Goodman/Agent Keenan
Three regular, horny teens head out to a small town with the promise of hanky-panky with some dame one of them hooked up with on the internet. But before they can yell out “HOSTEL”; our three young, dumb and full of cum duders find out they were mislead by a religious sect who have their own agenda... and it's not counting motherf*cking Rosaries...
Any ardent onliner knows that Kevin Smith's RED STATE burst on the scene with lots of “hello” in its jock-strap! First it was Kevin Smith's first horror film, quite the departure from his usual comedies or his comedic dramas. Second, in a bold move Smith claimed that the flick would be auctioned off to a distributor at the Sundance Film Festival and at the end of it all, Smith decided to self-distribute the film himself, which kind of caused some drama. He took the flick on the road, it came out via VOD and now Lions Gate is gunning out a straight to DVD/Blu-ray release on October 18. Personally, my relationship with Smith as a filmmaker has been a roller-coaster, he had me from Clerks to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, lost me BIG TIME with Jersey Girl, kind of got me back with Clerks 2 but after that, he fell off my radar (it should be said, I'm not a big comedy guy). But with RED STATE, Smith not only surprised and impressed me; but he kicked me in the nads so hard, that I'm still feeling it. I didn't know he had it in him!
RED STATE was a full meal that could be enjoyed on so many levels. It explored pretty much the key ingredients of what makes the American soup: sex, religion, politics and guns. Am assuming that your religious and political views MAY affect your perception of the movie itself. Personally, my beliefs didn't get in the way of me enjoying the picture and getting so much of it. Red State played it real smart as to how it slammed its cards on the table; it established “regular dude” characters with “Smith greased” politically incorrect, cussing laced and natural dialogue, kids who just want to get laid, nothing wrong with that, it's normal. Although low on development; their normalcy made me like and care for them. I related. There was no pretension here, no censorship to please the masses, just dudes being dudes the way I know dudes (make sense?). And what started off as a HOSTEL-ish type scenario went on to launch me into something even scarier then some a-holes who get off on hurting people: fanaticism. I know a lot of Christians took this movie as a slap in the face...and they shouldn't, cause its not really about them (unless they're as insane as the faux Christians here); to me this flick was about extremists in general. Not all Christians are extremists ya know, no matter what the media tells ya. Most are good people trying to live their lives in accordance to a principal set of rules they believe was laid down by the big G. Live and let live baby!
The flick could've had a gang of EXTREME Feminists, Misogynists or Gay Activists as its core group and it still would have worked. Having personal beliefs is a right we all have, expressing them is as well, but IMPOSING them upon others; that's a no-no and RED STATE took that thematic to the extreme, rocking the mike like a vandal, hence becoming a TRUE horror movie, being that sects like these exist in reality (just look at religious fruit cake Fred Phelps and his crew, who Smith inspired his character of Pastor Cooper on). Visually, Smith went full on guerrilla with this one and the rawness of the camera work so worked in this one's favor. Lots of hand held, camera strapped to actors for that running-reverse POV ploy a la Requiem for a Dream... there was a certain verite style to Smith's take which upped the impact of the story. And kudos on how he handled the horror bits; the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE came to mind a couple of times, I don't need to say anything else; its the best compliment I can give the film. And if like me the sound of gunfire is music to your ears, get ready to lullaby right! Red State sported one of the most visceral shoot-outs I've seen all year. Not only was I uber engaged in the happenings, I was also popping a boner over the ra-ta-tat jamboree that unfolded before me. To ONCE AGAIN quote the great Clarence Bodicker: Guns, guns, guns! Hey man, I love them, guilty as charged!
Another potent bullet in this one's clip was its stand out cast. Melissa Leo channeled Piper Laurie's Margaret White in Carrie (1976) with her frightening display. Michael Parks simply blew me away as Pastor Abin Cooper; a charismatic yet chilling show. In a fair world: Oscar for him. John Goodman did the jaded, too old for this shit shtick to a T. While “solid young genre actor” go-to guy Kyle Gallner (well backed by Nicholas Braun and Michael Angarano, awesome chemistry between the three ) and newcomer Kerry “gorgeous and talented” Bishé brought humanity to the affair; I truly felt for them. Add to all that a chilling use of Church music (Abin Cooper's singing alone so got under my skin), toe nail biting chase sequences and let field moments of brutality that acted as cinematic uppercuts and you get my favorite Kevin Smith movie...period! Any beefs with this Angel of Death? Yes. During a certain scene this thought popped into my head “How come they didn't know he wasn't dead?”. Came off as a small cheat there to serve the plot. But that was nothing; my main peeve with the picture was its ending.
WARNING: I WILL BE VAGUE, BUT THERE MAY BE MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD – READ FURTHER AT YOUR OWN RISK.
You see, RED STATE pulled a two step on my ass. When the first step kicked in, I was losing it (in a good way), I couldn’t believe that Smith had the audacity to take that route for his cap-off and I almost stood up and cheered. But before I could pour gasoline all over myself and have a Pyro party, the movie pulled a fast one on me, negating what I thought had just transpired, to then end in a more of a meh fashion. Why man? WHY???!!! You had me bro! YOU HAD ME! Smith did spit out at some stage show that the original written ending was more in line with what I hoped would have happened. Should have went that way! Sniffles. Can't have everything I guess. All in all; as you can see by my endless vomiting about this movie; RED STATE owned me, affected me and gave me lots to enjoy and think about i.e. everything that is wrong in this fucking world. So you gonna get on your knees and pray a this one's altar or what???!
Not overly gory, but when the splat kicked in, it counted! Bullets in the head, bullets in the face and ample bloodshed at the end of firearms.
T & A
We see some titties on an iPhone. And that was it. Booooo!
If I go by the online world, RED STATE seems to be polarizing peeps for the most part, a love it or hate it affair... always a good sign. For me? He shoots, he scores! The horror left hooks, the exploration of fanaticism/bigotry (by way of religion), political bullshit, a crazy action scene, a top notch cast and grab by the balls camera work. As I watched this flick; I was taking it in on so many levels it wasn't even funny. The horror, action, drama, all worked and yes the main shoot-out had me on the edge of my seat, but it was about more than that; and I guess whom you are, where you come from and how you were raised, will define what you will read into it. Alas, I did pick up on one plot hole and the “mess with the audience” ending was not what I wanted it to be; but on the whole, I loved Red State, and yes, will watch it again! Thank you Mr. Smith for such a rewarding watch! GOD BLESS! ;)
The closing credits read: 'Almost this entire cast will return in HIT SOMEBODY Coming over the boards in 2012.' Also: 'To take the edge off RED STATE go listen to hours of funny for free at smodcast.com "There's so many to choose from!"