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  • Warning: Spoilers
    If nothing else, Red State is memorable. A trio of horny teenage boys gets baited and captured by an armed to the teeth fanatical cult. The attempted escape of two of them precipitates a Waco on steroids violent showdown between the cult in their compound and ATF agents outside that have botched the situation and are ordered to take drastic measures to clean up their mistake. 

    As a horror movie, it's pretty decent, but it sort of fizzles out by the finale, and the ending is something you'll either think is clever or not as clever as Kevin Smith thought it was. Red State earned enough goodwill from me during its disturbing first half to carry me through its trigger-happy, tone-shifted latter half and earn it a slightly positive rating. Check it out to sate your curiosity, but don't expect to be blown away. 
  • Warning: Spoilers
    *Warning: Minor Spoiler Ahead"

    I gave this film an 8 although I do feel it deserved a 7.5 but I decided to round up. I had been a bit reluctant to watch this film initially because it seemed like it would be hugely predictable and overall rather boring but after watching several somewhat random films, I found myself watching it and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

    I feel like with Red State, you have to begin watching it in a certain frame of mind, knowing that the plot will be rather straightforward but also frighteningly possible. Despite referencing the Westboro Baptist Church as being "less-violent", it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to notice the similarities between their family and the one featured in Red State. You begin to wonder how far a brainwashed group such as this would go in the name of religion.

    The ending (which I'll try not to go into too much detail about) was bittersweet: while it ends in a rather comical fashion, I couldn't help but wish that there had been a huge twist at the end i.e. God was actually reaching down and beginning the crazy stuff from the book of revelations (I'm not religious at all so my longing to see a film end like this is entirely based on entertainment value).

    That being said, if you're in the mood for a rather crazy and violent film about a groups of religious nutjobs and some sex-craved teenagers then this is the film for you.
  • I had the honor of seeing a screening of Red State last night at Laser Pacific in Hollywood as part of the Red State of the Union film school program Kevin Smith held.

    Prior to going in, I refused to read any of the Sundance screening reviews of the film because I wanted to avoid spoilers and go in with a fresh experience. I had high expectations and I was not disappointed.

    The film begins with sort of the stereotypical horror movie formula, teenagers go out looking for sex and find themselves staring death in the face. However, what happens to them in Red State is a far departure from your standard Jason or Michael Myers flick. The film is hardly a stereotypical horror movie. In fact, Kevin Smith deliberately goes out of his way in this film to keep it far from the typical story arch and structure of most studio movies. Just when you think you know what is going to happen next, Smith hits you with another twist and surprise. This film is completely unpredictable and unforgiving of its characters.

    I must congratulate Mr. Smith on the exceptional camera-work and editing in this picture. This is by far the best looking Kevin Smith movie to date. The constant use of hand held cameras and creative cutting, keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. I think a fair comparison would be Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects" or parts of the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Also, the film has no musical underscore. It uses ambiance and sound effects in place which works beautifully for this film. Most films use music to enhance the mood and make you feel a certain way. In this film, you can tell Kevin Smith doesn't care how you feel and wants you to just sit there and take it.

    The cast is also spectacular. Michael Parks steals the show. Also John Goodman delivers the goods and has a lot more screen time than the teaser trailer suggests.

    All in all, I think this film is one of the best films I have seen in the last few years. With everything being computer generated these days, it refreshing to see a small practical film like this which still holds as much power as one of the big boy studio flicks. And for those of you worrying about the political or religious messages, there aren't any. This movie does not preach religious views to you nor does it take any kind of political side. Its plain and simple. This is just a horror movie about a family of psychos. The fact that they are religious just adds to the terror.

    The movie also features one of the best endings ever.
  • I've never considered myself a Kevin Smith fan. While I liked "Mallrats", what I've seen of his other works has left me unimpressed. When I heard he would be tackling a horror film, I wasn't exactly enthused by the prospect, though horror is easily my favorite genre. In fact, I had pretty much forgotten about it until I came across a trailer online. That trailer, combined with the solid cast Smith was able to line up, changed my tune, so I was excited to see the film available on pay-per-view. After watching it, I can safely say that it's Smith's best film to date, which in itself isn't the highest of praise. However, it's also one of the best films I've seen all year.

    Through an online ad, three teenage boys find a woman who is willing to have sex with all three of them at the same time. They go off to meet her, but it turns out to be a ploy, and they soon find themselves held captive in the rural compound of Abin Cooper and his fundamentalist religious cult. Cooper's group, known as the Five Points Church, is well-known for protesting at funerals of gays and causing various other commotions due to their beliefs. However, the true extent of how far they're willing to go due to the demoralization of America will soon be known to their three captives.

    Smith's films have always been heavy on dialogue, and "Red State" is certainly no different. The dialogue here, though, is no laughing matter, particularly as Abin Cooper delivers a lengthy, vitriol-laced sermon to his flock. Michael Parks ("The Evictors", "From Dusk Til Dawn") has been around for a long time, but never has he been more on top of his game than he is here as the Five Points Church matriarch. You hear hyperbolic terms like "tour de force" thrown around all the time, but Parks' performance in this film is one that truly deserves to be described as such. The hateful conviction with which Cooper gives his sermon and the psychotic glee when he belittles those who don't share his beliefs are scarily real thanks to the strength of Parks, who never misses a beat.

    The dialogue and film in general are clearly Smith's take on Fred Phelps and his infamous Westboro Baptist Church, but the film switches gears midway through and throws in some commentary on the Waco/Branch Davidian fiasco as well with the introduction of John Goodman as Joseph Keenan, an ATF agent poised to take out Cooper and his clan. After the local sheriff gets wind of the church's murderous activities, he contacts Keenan, who has been watching the group for quite some time. Keenan leads several ATF agents to the compound for a simple in and out, but after his second in command is shot dead, his superiors inform him that no one is to leave the compound alive, hostages and children included.

    From here, the film takes more of an action turn as opposed to the horror-oriented first half. We bare witness to a thrilling shootout as Keenan struggles with his conscience and unlikely allies inside the compound try to find a way to bring the children to safety. Anyone familiar with the events in Waco or documentaries on the incident, such as the infuriating "Waco: The Rules of Engagement", will definitely see the parallels between the real life happenings and what goes on here. Smith's film is just as much an indictment against the ATF and government B.S. as it is against those who give religious people a bad name.

    Goodman gives the other great performance of the film as the ATF agent stuck between a rock and a hard place. While his confliction is evident even after he relents and follows the orders of his superiors, he really shines in his final scene where he must explain the events to two government officials. I've always been a huge fan of Goodman's, and his monologue in this scene is some of the best acting of his career. Indeed, belief is a powerful thing. It's what you choose to do with it that defines you.

    Also in the cast are Academy Award winner, Melissa Leo, as Abin's daughter, Kevin Pollak in a "mind-blowing" cameo and the always quirky Stephen Root as the troubled sheriff. Smith assembled quite the cast for this venture. Independently financed, the method of release for this film has been odd to say the least, but I'm just happy to have seen it. The tone of the film is sporadic, always shifting and keeping the viewer off kilter. There is a little humor thrown in too, as is to be expected with Smith, but this is a pretty serious picture overall. If I had one qualm with it, it's the whole explanation for the trumpet bit, which seemed a little out there and overcomplicated. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed what Smith delivered here.

    If what I've heard is true, and Kevin Smith is intending to retire from filmmaking after his next movie, at least he went out with a bang. "Red State" is a successful change of pace.
  • OK, so as part of Kevin Smith's guerrilla marketing campaign for this movie, it aired on PPV in the US last night. That means that it was on the torrentnet this morning, and as a result I got to watch it in Europe tonight. I'm still reeling from the experience.

    I mean, we are talking Kevin Smith, king of the slacker movies, but at the same time the creator of one of the most intelligent and well-done movies about religion ever made, "Dogma." I have seen every one of Kevin Smith's films, some of them multiple times. But as much as I like the guy, I've never found myself asking, "What would happen if this guy decided to step away from the slacker comedy and make a serious movie -- a horror movie about America, as he sees it?" I never saw this movie coming.

    "Red State" is at its heart a horror movie. It starts by playing to horror movie conventions. Three teenaged guys, off for a night of fun in a neighboring Southern town, follow an Internet ad promising them a three-way with a willing older woman, and as a result wander into the WRONG Southern town. This town is the home of a Chrisschun religious cult, and they placed the ad. Try to imagine what the gay-hating and sex-hating Westboro Baptist Church would be like if they decided to take God's Law into their own hands and start killing the sinners themselves. Then try to imagine the situation escalating into a machine-gun-fire standoff with the ATF. What makes this such a good horror movie is that the horror could actually happen in the US. Everything about this movie is shocking *because it could actually happen*.

    Kevin Smith is a closet politco. Who knew? This is a very, very, very powerful movie, about the hell that the United States of America has descended into post-9/11. It is SO not a comedy, although it contains very funny moments, and it is SO not for the faint-hearted, or for those who lean heavily to the right politically, or who believe that doing so is synonymous with leaning to the Right. God's Right.

    With this film, Kevin Smith has risen to the top of my list of People I Most Want To Share Two Too Many Beers With Just So I Can Talk With Them.
  • Kevin Smith breaks away from his comedic roots to direct and write this religious/political/bigot baiter that lurches from Hostel type madness into a siege of the damned. Starring Melissa Leo, Michael Parks, John Goodman, Michael Angarano, Kerry Bishe and Nicholas Braun, story finds Parks heading up a Christian cult that lures horny youngsters to their place of worship on the promise of sex with an older woman. Of course once the lads get there it's not long before the truth of the lure is revealed and we are treated to hate spiel by sermon and some unpleasantness from the production code edition of the torture porn play book.

    Red State is an infuriating movie in many ways, but it is never dull and it always remains challenging, even if some of Smith's sermonising agendas lack cohesion entering the final third of the piece. In fact there are three tonal shifts that don't make an altogether appetising whole, Smith straining to bridge the gap between satire and horror – cum – thriller. And sadly the climax to all the damaged threads is very anti-climatic. On the major plus side is a cast doing fine work, headed by Goodman, Leo and Parks, the latter getting to play lead dog for a change. It's impressively shot by Dave Klein and Smith shows flickers of there being a good director in the mix.

    Poor box office and bad reviews upon release inevitably got it tarnished as a bad film. In truth it's a fascinating failure, but it has merits enough to warrant time spent with it. From Westboro to Waco, stopping briefly for a night in a Hostel, Red State is not easily forgotten once sampled. For better or worse. 6/10
  • OK. So after reading the other reviews and deciding to watch this based on the positive reports, I feel compelled to offer a more realistic review.

    First of all, this is not the masterpiece it's made out to be. A lot of Kevin Smith fanboys seem reluctant to give him a bad review.

    So here we go, it's a bit of a mess really. It seems to be getting a lot of praise for switching genres but honestly, it just comes across as confused. Yes, the performances are pretty good and some of the camera work is exceptional (the escape/chase scene is noteworthy) but overall it's almost like three films in one. This might sound like a good thing but not the way it's presented here.

    And as for everybody trying to get clever over the title, the meaning is pretty clear to me. It refers to both the political and the government angle that the authorities can lock any suspected terrorist up for an indefinite time. A la communist/red states.

    Overall, some good performances, memorable dialogue and decent cinematography fail to save this confused mess.
  • I'm going to be honest with you: I've never watched a Kevin Smith film other than this one. Yes, go ahead, have problems with that. But that's not why we're here. I'm telling you this so you know that I had absolutely no expectations of this film coming in, other than that a friend of mine told me it was very thought-provoking.

    And she was right.

    I think "Red State" is an unappreciated gem of a film. Coming from the perspective of being fascinated with the Westboro Baptist Church, I especially got into it. If you don't know about the Westboro Baptist Church prior to watching the movie, you need to look them up. Because much of the film is based around a religious sect that is quite similar. In fact, Abin Cooper (brilliantly played by Michael Parks) gives a sermon in the film that essentially quotes the WBC's beliefs verbatim. It's hard to believe that people can actually believe this stuff--but they do. And that is what makes this story truly frightening. My favorite horrors are based enough in reality to be believable--as a matter of fact, I think something MUST be believable in order for it to be scary. "Red State" is not scary because it has monsters or buckets of gore. It is scary because it is probable: there is nothing more frightening than the terrible things human beings are capable of doing if they choose to.

    In reading other reviews, I have noticed that many people criticized "Red State" for being all over the place or inconsistent. I didn't see that at all. Frankly, I appreciated the Coen-brothers-esque comedic breaks. John Goodman, especially, brought up some fond memories of "The Big Lebowski"-type humor. But I never felt that these breaks took away from the film or made it any less compelling.

    Another note, and I mentioned this before with Michael Parks, is that I thought the acting in "Red State" verged on superb. Parks' performance as pastor Abin Cooper was spot-on, and the rest of the cast followed suit. The story was put together well, with a nice but brief intro and a plot that never felt too forced. I was pleasantly surprised at the way the story was wrapped up, too, even though it probably wouldn't count as a typical "happy ending." But stories like this don't typically have those anyway, do they?

    To sum up: I wasn't expecting a lot from this movie. Negative reviews gave me low expectations. But, as usual, my curiosity got the best of me and I couldn't help but check it out for myself. "Red State" is a movie that I can genuinely say pleasantly surprised me. It is a little off the beaten path, slightly unorthodox, and subtly disturbing. But I loved it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I am extremely surprised, reading through some of the other reviews - so many people seemed to like this movie, and I just don't see it at all. It was awful.

    None of the characters shown in the first half hour of the movie were alive for the last fifteen minutes of it. They did a complete cast rotation, which made so little sense as I watched this train wreck, that I considered closing up my laptop in frustration.

    There were scenes in the movie (like the sermon, and the explanation for the trumpet soundings at the end) that went on so long that it became comical. The screenwriters took some serious indulgences during the crafting of this script, and not artistically either. Just lengthy monologues which served little purpose besides tying the flimsy plot together.

    In the absence of fractions I give this movie a begrudging 1 out of 10, though it really doesn't deserve that.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Great Cast, Weak A&& story. A lot of gimmicky red meat, heart string pulling, morality play. I would expect a whole lot more from almost any other director except Kevin Smith. He manages to take a great cast with a really good potential story, and turn it into a typical Kevin Smith schmaltzy pile of nonsensical, who is the worst amongst us thought experiment. I bet he thought he was being profound. The story degenerates into a shoot em up dark comedy of religious nonsense, government conspiracy, comic book logic stupidity. I hope Kevin Smith stops making movies if this is the best effort he can come up with. He should be charged with Crimes against Art for forcing these great actors to push through the mostly nonsensical things he did to this script.

    Flame away.
  • jgf616931 October 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    I've never felt the urge to write a review before but... I'm only 3/4 through this film and I had to register with IMDb to let the masses know that this is not a good film. It might be better if you don't know who Kevin Smith is, I noticed it had a bad review when I got it but thought "hey its Kevin Smith how bad could it be" how wrong I was. If you're the curious type then give it a blast and for any fans of the director it might be worth 88 minutes of your life too but only to see how bad things can be. I hear that Samuel L turned down the role of the main agent, the obvious next choice would be John Goodman!?!?!?WTF, thought he was going to distend his rectum yelling into the radio at one point. Loved Roseanne tho.

  • Warning: Spoilers
    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.
  • spyroskonst11 September 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    First of all i'd like to mention from all reviews i read the best one is from user "dean2804" with whom i agree 100%.

    Having said that, yes this movie is a mess. The good or the bad way? Well basically the mediocre way. Its 3 movies all presented in one: begins as a typical thriller with religious Christian psychos a-la "God hates gays so we kill them all", continues as a war/action and concludes as political.

    The GOOD: nice work by the actors, camera, music, direction. Loved them all. Nice character development, not even one of them is a "random character just waiting to die" type. Really good job on changing the film from thriller/action/political without annoying the audience. Explains pretty much everything in the end, plain and clear.

    The BAD: The "echo sound" at the end of the movie was useless & almost hilarious as an explanation. Simply put, just ignore it. Although liked the film & kept me till the end, i felt there was something missing. It was an OK film, but for some reason lacked the "wow" factor.

    OVERALL: i'd suggest you to check it. You won't regret it and even if you don't like the whole film, at least you'll enjoy some of its parts.
  • So, a friend of mine won tickets to catch a screening of "Red State" followed by a Q&A session with Kevin Smith and the cast, which included Melissa Leo, John Goodman, and more. The show was at the stunning Radio City Music Hall, which felt strange considering the elegance of the venue when pitted against the griminess of the film. The film was wonderful. In Smith's own words, "A nasty-ass little horror flick with few (if any) likable characters". Three young men encounter a cult-like church (modeled after the ever-so-famous Westboro Baptist Church), whom they discover is up to more than simply protesting funerals. That's about as much as you need to know. This is easily Smith's best work to date. From a visual/directing standpoint, the camera is so effectively used to capture the unsettling tone. He makes an extensive use of the shaky-cam, which, but in more creative ways that I've seen in recent times. The shaking is definitely more subtle than say "the Bourne Identity", which adds just the perfect amount of tension during dialogue heavy scenes, and just the right intensity during the more violent ones. Both are which are in great quantities. The quality of the picture was also very good (shot of Red Cinema cameras). The sound is also a high point of praise. The real charm of the movie is its unsettling tone, which pervades throughout most of it. There is no real score here, either. Every song you hear is within the film itself, mostly sung by Michael Parks, the man playing the villainous preacher. And speaking of him, I must say that his performance was Oscar worthy. Absolutely terrifying. The writing itself might be where my few criticisms lie. The film has many twists, a few too many for my liking. These "surprises" impress a lot of people, but to me, they come off as cheap and make the film feel really inconsistent at times. Also, whereas the first half of the film is a genuinely frightening horror film, the second half feels most like an action/thriller. It was all very good, but only until the film nears its conclusion does it really feel scary again. But, the writing is also rather impressive. When I look back on it, nothing in the film feels superfluous, it all flows and connects greatly. The opening few scenes set the rest of the film up awesomely. And, of course, there's a small dose of humor in it, much of it compliments of Mr. JOHN F-ING GOODMAN. The Cast was all fantastic, but particularly Parks, Melissa Leo, and John Goodman come off as shining stars here. The Q&A was fun, mostly because I got to see such awesome people in person, but I never got to ask my question, and some of the questions asked were so bad they got boo's all around from the rest of the audience. All in all, when Red State hits theaters this October, you really need to see it. It's all around a wonderful piece of indie cinema, and will satisfy horror-fans, and casual movie goers alike. My rating, 8/10. I have every intention of seeing this again when it's actually released. P.S. Best Opening credit sequence ever!!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    WOW, really bad, and surprising coming from such a big name as Kevin Smith. Damn he should stick to bad comedies with a crap load of dialog because horror movies about a Christian extremist sect are not his strong point. John Goodman, what were you thinking, are you broke? if so sell stuff on ebay but don't ruin your name, come on really, how does a dude enter an armory full of weapons, grab one then stand in the middle of the room waiting to get shot, terrible. The end, i don't want to spoil it in case someone has an hour and a half to throw away, OMG is it bad. You would be better off spending the time staring at the sun with a telescope, way better ending.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I first read about this movie when it was just called "Kevin Smith horror project". I was so exited to see Kevin Smith take the step from stoner comedy to a political, dark movie, as I thought this was. Being a fan of Clerks, Dogma and Silent Bob himself, I didn't think he could make a movie I didn't like. I didn't expect to laugh, obviously, but this movie didn't give me anything at all!

    I recently watched the documentary "Small town, Gay bar" from 2007 with Kevin Smith as one of the executive producers. The documentary evolves around the Westboro Baptist church led by Fred Phelps. A fanatic religious cult that don't like gay people very much. Sounds familiar? Well, it would if you had seen "Red State". At one point in the movie a police officer even compares the cult to the WBC and Fred Phelps. The documentary scared me more than this movie did.

    The actors did an OK job with a slow script , but I don't predict any Oscars in the future, not for this anyway. Anna Gunn and Matt L. Jones from "Breaking Bad" had small parts and I enjoyed seeing "Badger" as a police officer, that actually did make me laugh :o)

    In other words, I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone. Its not scary, its not shocking and its just not a very good movie. Please go back to making movies about what you know Kevin Smith. We can't all be serious. Comedy is an art itself :o)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    On the way to school, Travis (Michael Angarano) notices members of the Five Points Church, led by Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) protesting the funeral of a local gay teenager who was found murdered. During Travis' first class, his teacher talks about how Cooper and his church had their town ridiculed for his actions and beliefs. Later, Jared (Kyle Gallner), a friend of Travis, reveals he received an invitation from a woman he met on a sex site for group sex with himself, Travis and Billy Ray (Nicholas Braun). They borrow Travis' parent's car and travel out into the country to meet with the woman.

    Along the way, they accidentally sideswipe the vehicle of Sheriff Wynan (Stephen Root), while he was engaged in a homosexual affair in his car. Afraid, the boys drive off. Sheriff Wynan returns to the station and tells his deputy Pete (Matt L. Jones) to go and look for the vehicle. Meanwhile, the boys arrive at the trailer of the woman who sent out the invitation, Sarah Cooper (Melissa Leo). She encourages them to drink, and after being drugged by the beer, they pass out while undressing. Jared wakes up while being moved in a covered cage. He realizes he is in the sanctuary at Five Points after he identifies Cooper. Cooper begins a long, hate-filled sermon before identifying another captive, a homosexual they lured in through an internet chat room. They bind him to a cross using saran wrap, violently execute him with a revolver and drop him into a small crawl space where Travis and Billy Ray are bound together.

    Cooper then begins binding Jared to the cross, but stops when he notices Pete driving up to the church. Travis and Billy Ray use a protruding bone from the corpse to cut themselves free, which is heard by Caleb (Ralph Garman). He lifts up the trap door just in time to see Billy Ray escape and begins after him. Billy Ray is not able to help Travis out of his tight saran wrap cuffs and leaves him for dead. Caleb chases Billy Ray while passing Travis into a room stocked with weapons, where the two end up shooting and killing each other. Pete hears the gunshots and calls Wynan for back-up, but is shot and killed by Mordechai (James Parks). Cooper then blackmails Wynan, telling him to stay away or he will reveal Wynan's homosexuality to his wife. In despair, Wynan calls ATF Agent Joseph Keenan (John Goodman), who begins setting up outside of the church.

    While the family mourn Caleb, Travis (who had broken free and feigned death alongside Billy Ray's corpse) arms himself and makes a run for it, eventually making it outside where he is shot and killed by Wynan, who mistook him for a member of the congregation. Keenan tries to reason with the family but a shoot-out erupts instead after one Keenan's men is shot in the head. In the midst of the shooting, Agent Keenan receives a call from ATF higher-ups ordering him to start a full raid of the complex to ensure that no witnesses remain of the operation, and no one can tell of their mess up. Another tactical agent named "Harry" (Kevin Alejandro) struggles with this decision and argues with Keenan in private against doing this. Keenan coldly dismisses Harry's protests for personal reasons -- rationalizing his decision based on personal gain and the reputation of the ATF -- and Harry storms off in disgust. During the shoot-out, Cheyenne (Kerry Bishé) unbinds Jared, begging him to help her hide the children.

    Jared coldly refuses due to the fact that the church is evil and had killed both his best friends, and the argument turns into a fight. Sarah notices them and attacks Jared. Cheyenne tries to break up the fight and accidentally shoots Sarah in the process, killing her. Jared, realizing no matter what he does he will end up dead, helps Cheyenne hide the children. They run outside to plead with Keenan to spare the children but are brutally shot and murdered by Tactical Agent Harry, who has come around to accepting Keenan's rationales, though Keenan is now visibly disturbed the reality of this outcome and Harry's actions. The shoot-out is then suddenly interrupted when a mysterious loud trumpet ominously blast echos across the sky.

    If "Red State" proves one thing it is that Kevin Smith is a much better writer than he is a director. In the comedy genre, direction only matters so much. If the jokes aren't there, what can a director do? He can't make "nothing" funny. In the horror genre, the role of the director is key. He is responsible for the scares, the pacing, the thrills, and the overall tone of the movie. "Red State" works as written but the film as directed is a bit of a mess. Far too many characters, a limp, lackluster editing, and too many "Kevin Smith type" characters. I kept thinking how a movie like this would be directed in the hands of a more accomplished filmmaker who could get a hold of the subject matter such as Rob Zombie. I appreciate the effort here and the performances are all uniformally good but it all adds up to very little.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Travis (Michael Angarano) is a high school student who is warned in one of his classes about a Christian fundamentalist group called the Five Points Church. They're a group of radicals led by a pastor named Abin Cooper (Michael Parks). They are said to be so extreme that the Neo- Nazi's have separated themselves from them. The Church is seen on television because they are protesting outside the funeral of a homosexual teenager who was found murdered. Travis and his two friends are planning to have sex with an older woman that they've found on the Internet. They meet the woman at her trailer park and her name is Sara (Melissa Leo). She drugs them and takes them to the Five Points Church. Travis is left in a cage and the others are either locked in a hole or bound and gagged. The boys attempt to escape leads to a standoff between the Church and the SWAT rescue team outside. One of the cops is Joseph Keenan (John Goodman), who has been investigating the Church's vast gun ownership.

    Red State is meant to be one of Kevin Smith's last films as a director. The man responsible for such indie films as Clerks (1994) and Chasing Amy (1997) is calling it quits. This is following apparent onset disputes and verbally attacking film critics for the reception of his buddy movie Cop Out (2010). After seeing Red State you'll wish that the big guy had turned the lights out earlier. The film is a mess. It's reflective of Smith's scattershot anger towards just about everyone. It is also schizophrenic in both genre and perspective. The setup is initially intriguing and intense because we're curious to see what trap the boys are being led into. Yet the alarm bells are sounded as soon as they're caught because the film looks to descend into another awful torture porn film. The drab, grey corridors and hand-held camera are reminiscent of the very worst of this subgenre, Hostel (2005). This is most likely what earned the approval of Quentin Tarantino, incidentally a producer on Hostel, who declared that he loves this film. But he's a movie buff though and there are few, if any movies, he dislikes. Michael Parks also happens to have appeared in numerous Tarantino-related films too. During an overlong sermon where Cooper condemns homosexuals, two people in the audience walked out. They left at the right time because this is where the violence begins and where the film loses its footing.

    We realise that Smith is only interested in painting in broad strokes and working to the nth degree, rather than establishing the humanity of these fundamentalists. Is there a point to this then? His message is that some groups will fight at all costs to get what they want, forgetting that they're not dissimilar. That is a very broad concept to try and satirise, a well-known one too and he never pulls it off. He tries to flip the script on us by introducing the SWAT teams as the baddies. They shoot first and think later and suddenly Sara's daughter briefly becomes the main protagonist because she just wants to protect the children in the house. While this thankfully takes us out of the realm of torture porn, it is only to introduce a series of overly violent and tiring gunfights. As figures from all sides are gruesomely plugged off, we're left in a state of emotional limbo because Smith has done little to earn our sympathy with any of these sketchily drawn characters. The experience of Leo and Goodman isn't even enough because uncharacteristically, they're both way over the top here and not particularly interesting. Though some might take pleasure in the shootouts and moments of tension, the satire is thinly stretched in a film that merely postures as being politically intrigued. It is essentially an excuse for Smith to give all aspects of American society the middle finger. Don't give him the satisfaction.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie had potential. It could've easily have been a companion piece to "Hostel", like a religious fundamentalist version. And there are a DOZEN horrible ways that Xtians used to kill people (Brazing Bull, Sawing, witch trial stuff, etc.) But clearly this movie was rushed together and slapped together TOO quickly. It was like Kevin SMith wanted to get this movie out SO quickly that he didn't care about crafting a complete film. The movie is missing a necessary first act, there's no real setup. ANd so when we cut to the 2nd act the tonal change doesn't work. Instead the thriller/murder stuff isn't shocking since we see it coming. And when the FBI/ATF/whatever shows up to kill the church people it's like half of a third act intrudes into the film and never completes itself. The "Rapture" stuff was compelling and even with his nobudget resources Smith should've tried to do this instead of the cop out ending (no pun intended) that he did. It would've made the movie pay off and truly scary since we've never seen a rapture before on screen. But instead we get a half-baked Coen brothers style ripoff of an ending with a pointless monologue by Goodman that's so muddled its a metaphor for this mess of a film. Again, there was a lot of potential here. Maybe someday this film will get remade by someone that cares. My guess is that Smith was so hurt by the critical backlash over "Cop Out" that he was rushing to get back into the game so he could repair his street cred before it was too late (in his mind that is). But it seems like his career went on hold after "Zach and Miri" flopped since Weinstein stopped financing films for him. So "Red State" feels like Smith is trying WAY too hard to win us back with a hard-hitting film that is hard-core for the sake of being hardcore instead of just being a good movie, which it is not. But again, there was some good ideas here. Michael Parks is also EXCELLENT and had the movie been a better vehicle for his performance then I suspect he could've really been remembered in this. His character had cult status written all of it but the film falls apart so quickly that it doesn't sell him they way it should. Even the font used for the titles (ironic as it is in its simplicity) is a turn-off because of how 'simple' it is. It's like Kevin is just tossing this movie out like it's this effortless thing for him yet rather than it coming off as confident it comes off as a form of skimming, like a student who waits the night before a test to study a semester's worth of material. I really wanted to like this film but Kevin's experiment in a film that is edited as he films it goes against the great tradition of filmmaking in a sense-- i.e. if you are going to mimic greats like Tarantino and the Coens who are Kubrickian in their attention to detail and slave over their films, then rushing a movie out contradicts the process they are known for using (they take their time letting their films grow). This is like a fried fast food version of "Fargo" spiced up with Tarantino flourishes/clichés. And like fried food, it's not good for you in the end and doesn't really taste that great the longer you eat it.
  • This is a really good film – don't let the rating fool you:-) Tight plot, no wasted scenes. Some great dark humour, but also a really tense main plot. It shows up everyone and everything for the foolishness it is: teenage lust, fire-and-brimstone preachers, government agencies, dogs (!), terrorist legislation, you name it and the film slams it. Do yourself a favour and see this film – please! That way you will not miss out some beautiful, vintage Kevin Smith dialogue: "What do you recon a cross like that costs?" — "You mean in dollars or in common sense?". So, to conclude – this is a film that deserves a lot rating that it has, in my opinion. Kevin Smith has never shied away from complicated topics and this is no exception. But the lightness of touch makes this film more of a tongue-in-cheek satire than some of his other much darker films.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Red State, from director Kevin Smith starts off with good intentions. It starts out with political overtones. The buddies are driving and they stumble upon a funeral of a gay man being protested by a crazy anti-gay preacher and his followers. Then you have the obligatory classroom scene where he protest is discussed. The classroom scene also helps to establish the main characters as the goof off, the sex maniac and the semi-rational guy.

    Of course a movie with teenage males in it means one thing for sure, they want to get some sex and that is at the heart of the story. The three guys are looking for sex online but all the women on the site they visit are either in LA or New York except for one. One woman is in a nearby small town. So the men set up a meeting to have sex with this woman. They meet a middle aged woman outside her mobile home. She invites them in to have beers and that's where the movie goes tragically wrong. The woman has drugged them and she's one of the anti-gay preacher's followers. They wind up in the church where they see a gay man bound to a cross with plastic food wrap. The preacher has already begun what has to be the most boring, incoherent sermon in movie history. The gay man is then executed with a pistol through the top of the head.

    After seeing the execution and the crazy followers tie their friend to the giant cross. Two of the teens escape. This is where the movie loses itself. It turns into a Waco style standoff between the ATF and the crazy preacher and his insane followers. It totally abandons the anti-gay story and the teens wanting sex story. It turns into a pointless shootout, a government cover-up by murder and a silly dog story at the end that has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Nothing is really resolved after many things were set up to be big revelations later in the film. It was like Kevin Smith started making a movie about anti-gay preachers and teens wanting to get sex and then ran out of money, quit and told his assistant to finish the movie and use your "imagination".

    This movie has to be one of the worst, most depressing films I've seen in my life. I think they should show this movie to film students to show now NOT to make a movie. I also feel like filing a lawsuit against Kevin Smith for stealing 90 minutes of my life that I will never have back and filling that time with memories of a horrible movie. Avoid this movie if you can!
  • Except for the two Clerks films and maybe Dogma, Kevin Smith has proved his one of the laziest and most inconsequential directors to come out of the heyday of indie/Miramax filmmaking.

    This film is just god awful. Boring, not scary, no thrills, terrible acting, some of the worst writing I've ever had the displeasure of sitting through. I did not see Cop Out, but I can't imagine it was much worse than this. Why Melissa Leo would star in this is beyond me, and the guy playing the psycho preacher was fairly decent I suppose. Otherwise, it looks cheap, it feels cheap, and it is a complete waste of time you will never get back...Ever. Stay far away even on video - remember: you don't get your time back in life.

  • Warning: Spoilers
    When I saw the trailers for this film, I was intrigued at the subject matter it was taking on. Religious zealots run rampant in the countryside and their social tolerance regarding anything that might challenge their deeply held beliefs puts them in a position where they feel under siege. We know these heavily armed groups exist, but the cartoonish way they were presented in this film didn't strike any fear in me. I'd be much more interested in seeing a film about the regular guy who takes his church-going a little too seriously and loses control. But, hey that's me.

    Anyway, this film has very little to do with our "religious" problem. It instead comes off like some sort of conformation of conspiracy nut theories about the moral corruption in the heart of government agencies. In other words, it's pretty much exactly what a lot of people in "red states" actually believe. And this is what is so offensive about it.

    We're going through a time where government is smeared with decades-old propaganda myths as a way of giving more control to certain private interests. What we don't need is another popular piece of media telling us that there's some sort of official government policy which states that agents will automatically massacre a group of nutcases to make their job a whole lot easier.

    I know there should some cynicism over where government is headed and I too have my own criticisms, but jumping to absurd conclusions only fuels the fire for more stupidity. You're better than this, Mr. Smith.
  • ronnybrown19826 September 2011
    Being a fan of Kevin Smiths earlier films (ie Clerks, Mallrats etc) I was extremely disappointed with this amateurish, didactic and boring movie.

    Firstly, the directing would have been OK if it was a first time directors attempt at making an action movie but coming from someone with so many films under his belt it looked awful. To all the reviews that said the chase scenes were good: they weren't. Smith just attached a steadycam to the actors - a technique that has been used many times before and which didn't fit with the rest of the film.

    The script was all over the place - going from awful conversational set pieces which didn't flow, to long pointless monologues - in particular the one from the Reverend that was done to show us how awful and bigoted he was which we already understood. The John Goodman speech at the end was equally awful and pointless. In the first 20 odd minutes I thought the film was looking good. After that the film is full of people acting in a way that makes no sense whatsoever and renders that entire film totally stupid and unbelievable.

    Thirdly, the characters were all extremely one dimensional from the people in the church who were just mindless idiots, to the kids and the cops - who mindlessly carried out orders.

    Overall, the film just treats the audience as idiots. Anyone with an ounce of intelligence disagrees with detainment without trial, with the Westboro Baptist Church, and (what this film seems to be based on) what happened at Waco. And if you don't disagree with all those things then you probably DO deserve to be hit over the head with a dried dog turd like this. Anyone else stay away.

  • This movie also suffers from the ire of religion aficionados and hence receives bad reviews on Netflix and IMDb. Rest assured, this is a great movie with equal parts survival horror and Tarantino-esque irony.

    The movie does have a compact script and keeps things pretty straightforward to brief acts. There is, however, never a dull moment. Definitely one of Kevin Smith's best works.

    One word of caution, do not expect traditional structure of a protagonist driven plot. This movie is quite off kilter, using characters as disposable plot devices. I for one, loved that little unpredictability to this film.

    Extremely entertaining, unless you are waiting for rapture yourself.
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