Boiled down, Kevin Smith’s latest movie is a curb stomping (rightfully deserved) of the Westboro Baptist idiots and their leader Fred Phelps topped with bits of horror and action movie flavorings. The one thing you need to know about this movie more than anything else is while Kevin Smith wrote and directed it, you ABSOLUTELY will not recognize this film as something coming from his body of work. This is not some amateurish fart joke comedy. Nor is this some reject romantic comedy. Nor buddy cop crap.
This is a bloody, brutal and downright riveting flick.
In a small town where a Phelp-ish group of religious fundamentalists (these are the people who even the Tea Party and Neo Nazi f*cks think are crazy) lives Kyle Gallner (A Haunting in Connecticut, Nightmare on Elm Street) and his pals. Three average high school kids out looking to put their penises inside a real woman. They answer an online ad for a four-way (these kids are very sexually open apparently, maybe they are European or some sh*t) with an older woman. Turns out it was a trap and they are drugged, captured and put into cages by the loony religious freaks to be made examples. Dead examples, but examples nonetheless.
At this point you would believe the movie is about the kids surviving the horrors of being captured. Pretty standard plot move, right? But this movie isn’t about that. Yeah, it matters, but it’s more of an inciting moment that gets other forces involved. It’s the biggest reason that I really enjoyed this flick. There’s no way to thumb down where it’s going and what is going to happen. There is actually two other major plotlines and several other minor ones all working together in harmony.
Michael Parks (Kill Bill, From Dusk Til Dawn) as Abin Cooper (aka Fred Phelps) is phenomenal as the batsh*t religious leader. John Goodman (Rosanne, Always, Big Lebowski) as the S.W.A.T agent tasked with dealing with Cooper is equally good. In fact, a superb cast supports the film all the way around. Each character is well-rounded, has realistic flaws and personality traits. It’s not hard to get sucked into the storylines when the characters are believable. Massive, massive kudos to Smith for creating realistic, dynamic characters from top to bottom. This movie feels like it very well could happen in the US, making it all the more frightening in an all too true kinda way.
As the tempo of the movie picks up (it is a bit slow early) everything the audience expects is essentially thrown out the window. “Red State” follows its own rules. It kept me on the edge of my seat simply because I didn’t know what was going to happen. And a couple of times I damn near jumped out of my seat in pure shock (not horror, shock). In Kevin Smith’s canon of films this one rises to the top. He’s already on record saying he believes he’ll never make another one as good. But I somehow doubt that. I feel like he’s turned a page on his career and if he chooses could continue to make some poignant, chilling pieces on American culture. This film rests comfortably in my top 10 for the year so far. Check it out on VOD (or DVD / Netflix on Oct 18).
Snore Factor: ZZ