In a complete departure from films like Clerks and Mall Rats, Kevin Smith has created Red State, a psycho-candy, religious terrorist hostage flick of mind bending proportions. It’s slick, unconventional and unexpected in the extreme, but it will split the Smith fans down the middle with some following the twist with warped appreciation and others feeling slightly disappointed.
The plot revolves around a group of kids in small town America that head off to a trailer out in the middle of nowhere to meet a women one of them had found online for an odd group thex thing. However, when they pass out (Wolf Creek style) and wake up in a fundamentalist religious group’s church just as a gay man is being “judged” horrifically, their sordid liaison turns into a nightmare of epic proportions. The situation turns into a hostage shoot-out as John Goodman and his government agency team turn up to sort the mess out.
It’s great to see Goodman back on the big screen, and he plays the part of the agent team leader with typical big man presence. Michael Parks adds convincing conviction in the part of religious zealot, Abin Cooper, and supporting roles by Melissa Leo, as the aged trailer park siren come religious nut, Sarah Cooper, and Kerry Bishé as her wavering daughter Cheyenne make the film work as well as it does.
However, the crux of it all comes down to how well you take a complete departure from conventional movie plot development. There’s something refreshing about a film that does things differently and does it well, but if you’re the kind of person that needs to see a scrap through to its completion then you’re probably not going to get behind what Kevin Smith has done with Red State.
What’s hard to argue with though, no matter what you think of the culmination of the film, is the judicious way the film looks at the debates that underlie the themes of the film, including morality, religion, judgement and retribution. The shoot out scenes are pretty impressive too, however, some of the build up is a little rough around the edges in parts.
Red State film review: 3.7/5