This is an awful movie. I'd rather watch a bad episode of any of the "Law & Order" TV shows, for example, and I often laugh at them (on the few occasions that I watch them). RS is unrealistic, unappealing, and poorly made, but not enough that one can laugh at it. MST 3K would reject it, I'd guess. Was the director trying to be "ambiguous?" Does he think this is what makes a film "art?" He has succeeded in making an unambiguously bad movie. Among other things, there are no characters to "get behind," and what's worse, none of them come across as particularly realistic. Nor are the situations realistic. RS makes Oliver Stone's "JFK" conspiratorial vision look like an establishment white-wash by comparison!
Forget about offense to "Christian conservatives," because all people should be offended (except for film students who need to learn what not to do and truly deranged people, perhaps). The "religious" people shown in the film are clearly using religion to fulfill sadistic desires, and no religion should be blamed for the actions of a few "nuts." However, what's worse is how the ATF agents are portrayed, which would place them on the same level as Nazi SS guards at death camps if they actually were like this in reality. And of course we get the bungling local sheriff. Why that character's name wasn't Lobo is an interesting question.
Really, the only "message"' one gets in this film is that the director is an incompetent with a bizarre view of social reality. I would welcome a film that shows how a cult is comprised of many different types of personalities, with some of the members really wanting to do good and thinking that they are, for instance. Perhaps we would get some back story about what led them to the cult in the first place. This is where we might see some social reality. For example, perhaps one of them lost a loved one because they lacked health insurance and put off going to a doctor. In this case, the person would fall into the hands of a group of people who are opposed to making sure everyone has good health care, generally-speaking. This would create the irony or ambiguity that the director apparently sought. As it stands, though, it is a sad mess of a film, though if it was designed to offend everyone, it would all make perfect sense.
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