The poster for Red State describes the film as “an unlikely film from that Kevin Smith.” Unlikely is exactly what this film is. The film starts off with three teenage boys who find an older woman online who wants to vent her sexual urges, so they make the drive out to her home one night. From there, the film introduces us to a insanely religious family with some unusual rituals. Kevin Smith writes and directs this Horror film, and John Goodman, Melissa Leo and Michael Parks lend their talents to this ambitious project.
This is probably Smith at the most impressive he’s ever been behind a camera. He uses an all-digital Red camera system, making the film look dry and color-muted, matching all the characters with very little redeemable qualities. The camera is active in interesting ways, from frantic point of view shots of people dodging gunfire or snapshot-like editing to go along with a description of a house. The script is solid and the dialogue is interesting as usual.
Michael Parks is an underrated and underused actor, but he gets the chance to flex his talents in this film as Father Abin Cooper, a religious man with dangerous drive to right “wrongs” with extreme prejudice. Parks embodies one of those creepy, annoying, religious extremists who take things too far in the name of religion. Melissa Leo plays Sara, an equally devoted woman of religion. Leo plays a crazed-woman very well, and is a good compliment to Parks’ Cooper. John Goodman plays Agent Joseph Keenan, a man that faces this dangerous family. Goodman is wonderful as the man trying to make sense of it all.
Red State is an interesting film that raises many questions about religion and our morals.
There is no character in this film that you can truly connect to. This may have been done on purpose, to show that we’re not perfect, but there should be at least some aspect of a character we can latch onto. Goodman’s character could have been it, but it feels like he isn’t fleshed out enough.
The parts of the film that are supposed to scare or make the audience tense just fall flat, and some may think the film is just trying too hard. There are even parts where we know we’re supposed to care for particular characters, but we just don’t because most can’t connect to them.
Some may think the film is just a jumble of ideas that never really find their stride together and never really mesh to form a likable film. It attempts to horror and action, but it fails to succeed in those genres.
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