I have a love/hate relationship with Kevin Smith. I find him fascinating and knowledgeable about film and extremely funny and likeable. With that said, I generally don’t like his movies other than CLERKS. They’re typically a little too juvenile for my tastes. Even DOGMA (which I worked on) left me a little underwhelmed. But I always go back to the well and watch his movies in hope that they will one day surprise me.
RED STATE did that in spades.
Not only is it his most mature work, it’s an extremely well-made film that works as both a cautionary horror tale and a dark satire of religion and law enforcement.
The story involves three high school students in search of a good time with an older woman, but this is no SUMMER OF ’42. They have unwittingly stepped into a trap sprung by Pastor AbinCooper (Michael Parks) and his followers. Fundamentalists to the core, this cult aims to cure the wicked of their evil ways.
Soon the ATF catch wind of the kidnapping and surround the compound and all Hell breaks loose when the situation can’t be contained peacefully.
With a cast that includes the aforementioned Michael Parks (in a seriously Oscar worthy performance), Melissa Leo, John Goodman, Stephen Root and Kevin Pollak, RED STATE rises above typical genre fare.
I’ve now seen it twice and I enjoyed it even more the second time. It has a lot on its mind and Smith deftly handles the material. It’s not for everyone though. It certainly wades in its blood and gore and may offend those that don’t necessarily agree with its religious politics. But for those that like a great satire, RED STATE earns its stripes.