#252 / 365 – ‘Red State’ – 88 mins
Cinema Challenge #103 / 115
Bored Middle American teenagers Travis (Michael Angarano), Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun) and Jarod (Kyle Gallner) travel to Cooper’s Dell to hook up with a willing older woman they found on the internet. But it’s a trap – the boys are drugged, to awake chained up in the church of fundamentalist Christian preacher Abin Cooper (Michael Parks). Cooper and his inbred congregation are so deranged that even neo-Nazi groups won’t associate with them for fear of being tainted. And now they’re going to punish the boys for their ‘sins’ after forcing them to witness a series of executions. Meanwhile, outside the compound federal agent Joseph Keenan (John Goodman) and his team are about to stage an armed assault.
Having never watched a Kevin Smith film before today, Red State gave me the perfect opportunity to see what all the fuss is about with the filmmaker. If there’s one thing that can be said about Red State, is that Kevin Smith is certainly not afraid to take chances and maybe cause controversy with the Waco style siege being the bulk of the plot where sex, religion and politics are interwoven in this darkly comedy thriller and horror – Smith insists this is a horror, but I fail to see how it fits into this genre. All the performances are all disturbingly good. Especially Michael Parks who is superbly creepy as the unhinged fundamentalist leader Abin Cooper, and then Melissa Leo who is equally terrifying as his creepy daughter, Sara.
Red State is an ambitious and bold piece of filmmaking from Kevin Smith which ticks along at a nice pace. It is also decidedly unpredictable and inventive within its story, particularly the ending, which Smith pulls off with a fantastic piece of imagination. On this evidence of Red State means I’m now looking forward to discovering Smith’s back catalog.