May 1, 2012

Film Review: Red State



Premise:
Travis (Michael Angarano), Jared (Kyle Gallner) and Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun) have plans for raunchy group sex with a woman they met on the internet from their home town! They quickly find it's a trap set by murderous preachy Christian zealots who intend to put the boys' murder on display in front of their very secluded church (which is loosely based on Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church, infamously known for protesting the funerals of soldiers and homosexuals who were killed via hate crime). Police get involved, and then ATF building the conflict higher and higher.

Trailer here. NSFW due to language

Standouts:
Given that there was very trace scenes (almost none) of comedy in this film, I was surprised Kevin Smith did such a good job sticking to the genre. Everything is very tense and dark from beginning almost to the very very end. The ending was one of two things that bothered me in this film, but I won't say anything to spoil it. I will only say that the entire scene feels out of place, underwhelming, and likely based on the film Burn After Reading. The other thing that bothered me about this film is the lack of attention and depth to the characters. The Five Points church is intrinsically interesting, and is accentuated by how interesting their leader is, but I don't think Kevin Smith cared about any of the other characters given how quickly many of them were disposed of.

My Highlights:
The first horrific murder of the film, Sarah's tug-a-war with Cheyenne, and John Goodman capping people.

Overall Rating:
For a first-time horror writer/director, this was a pleasant surprise by Kevin Smith. I can now say I've seen all of his films and didn't think he could pull off this genre as well as he did. This film got a lot of negative press due to Smith trying to draw as much a stir and controversy last year to gain a buzz, as well as a lot of negative reviews but overall I enjoyed it. Michael Parks, John Goodman, and Kerry Bische made the film with their inspired acting, with honorable mention to Kevin Pollak. The film wasn't without flaws, as mentioned in the standouts, but could have been far far worse.

3.5 / 5

When You Should See It:
If you're a big fan of Kevin Smith or have an afternoon free, check this film out. Red State is currently on Netflix Instant Watch, but if you're still unsure, a main selling point of the film is that it's only 88 minutes long.

image from Amazon

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