Kyle Gallner, John Goodman, Michael Angarano, Kevin Alejandro, Melissa Leo, Stephen Root, Michael Parks, Anna Gunn, Kevin Pollak
DIRECTED & WRITTEN BY
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THE HUGHES VERDICT!
Kevin Smith…..love him or hate him?
Well lucky for me I am in the camp that found Clerks 2 a total blast, loved the dirty talk of Zack and Miri who decided one day to make a porno. Damn I even found some enjoyment out of Cop Out and yes I can hear the howls of despair from where I am sitting. Now while I may have lost some credibility because I know there are not many fans out there who like the Bruce Willis action film (I liked the kind of Kuffs vibe to it) hopefully I get you back on side by recommending to you Red State, a different kind of film from Smith and one that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to end.
“Kevin Smith doing horror!” was the kind of conversation that was doing the rounds when it was announced but while there be those expecting and hoping for a bloodbath of extreme torture, this is not that kind of film and also its not really a horror film. Confused? Well that is the beauty of watching Red State because you really do not know what you are watching or to expect and for that Smith must be highly applauded.
We start with a typical horror cliche, yes horny teens. Jared (Kyle Gallner) has been for weeks talking online to a local woman about having a bit of sex with her. Not just him by the way but his mates included, Travis (Michael Angarano) and Billy Ray (Nicholas Braun) who join him for a sexual experience that they will forever remember. The film from the off is littered with sin and lust especially when we witness the Five Points Church group led by Pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) who invades funerals of deceased homosexuals and wave anti-gay signs and who are well known around town for their strong powerful views. The boys know this group and what they preach but thinking like teenagers they ignore this and decide to venture out for their eagerly awaited sexual liaison.
On the way we get another message of how sex can be sinful when the boys clip a car parked on the edge of the road on a dark path. Getting out to see if they caused any damage they are startled to see a man jump up from inside the car and with shock they drive away. The damaged car just happens to belong to the local sheriff (Stephen Root) a closet gay who was cheating on his wife by having oral sex with a total stranger,
Unknown to the boys that the deputy sheriff is now looking for their car, the boys head off to a trailer where the not so pretty woman ( Melissa Leo) is waiting. They enter her home she offers them a drink before the sex can begin and they knock the bottles back. They enter the bedroom to strip before all three feel a bit sleepy and soon they are knocked out from the poison that was in the beer and they awake to a nasty fright. It seems the woman who promised them a night of sex is actually a member of the Five Points and for the boys this is a start of a nightmare that will only get worse.
The cover of the DVD states that Quentin Tarantino “Freakin loved this movie” and it was a quote that I simply could not get out of mind. Why? Because all the way through the running time of the film this felt like a QT movie. This is so unlike a Kevin Smith movie that fans who hate his work will probably won’t watch but would love. The beginning offers a somewhat new version of Hostel, I mean we have 3 horney teens whose urge for sex ends with them in a very dark place. Yes there is a suggestion that this will go all gore porn on us but make no mistake this is not a path this leads. The film goes from one genre to another and when one of the boys awake to find himself locked in a cage in front of a blood frenzy crowd, the film goes all QT on us, with long passages of dialogue that keeps you engaged and enthralled.
The speech Pastor Cooper gives out to his loyal following is a brilliant piece of writing. Now I am for not one moment saying that I agree with his homophobic views and why the world is as wrong as it is but damn he nearly got me believing. Its a speech that filled my head with dread, I knew what he was saying was bullshit but yet I could not take my eyes off him, I really do not know if it was because of the script of Smith or the performance of Parks but either way it was the moment that Red State was sold to me and I just waited to see what other delights the film could offer.
Its here after the speech that the horror begins but then only briefly. While I wont dare spoil it for those who are still yet to see the film, the tone shifts from horrific to wacky in moments and when the brilliant John Goodman turns up in what is a fine role, I bet anyone that they simply won’t know what the feck is going on and its a common feeling you will get through out the remaining running time.
Blood and death follows in the final quarter and the climax is littered with unexpected moments that will leave you open mouthed and then we get to the final 15 minutes and the only word I can come up with is “bizarre!”. I mean I have read that people think it was because Smith did not know how to end the film but I believe that is a load of rubbish. For me its all about belief and the group followed what they preached and that was what they believed. Again I can not go into this in fear of spoilers but its a bonkers plot development served even more so with an explanation from Goodman which you will either laugh at or find a terrible waste.
For me Red State works on so many levels. Its brilliantly written with the typical deft touch that Smith brings even though its more (and of course for a horror) of a darker tone. Any horror film needs a great villain and Red State gets one thanks to Cooper who is so damn believable and while many going into it expecting a full blown horror fest and be disappointed, you could say that Red State is half satire and half exploitation shocker but either way its Smith’s best film for years……..
Read Matt Wavish’s cinema review right here: https://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/2011/12/red-state-2011/ rating:7/10