I am very fond of Kevin Smith. He and his films are foul-mouthed but they have a real resonance. Warning: if you are offended by frank sexual talk and situations, coarse language, and such then none of Kevin Smith’s films are for you.
One Line Review: Disjointed, profane yet intelligent horror based on the Westboro Baptist Church.
Red State (2011) – Rated R
“Director Kevin Smith puts a unique spin on the horror genre in this tale of hormonal urges gone awry. Three high school boys answer an online ad from a woman seeking wild sex and soon find themselves in the hands of some dangerous religious zealots.”
“How much do you think a cross like that costs?” – “You mean in dollars or common sense?”
Red State is Kevin Smith’s follow-up movie to Cop Out. Cop Out was the first film that Smith directed without having also written. Normally directors shouldn’t also be writers but Cop Out was just awful. I had lowered my expectations for Red State wondering if Smith had lost his touch.
I needn’t have worried. Red State is easily Kevin Smith’s darkest film. The script is all over the map as if segments were written at completely different points and with different intentions but each part is fascinating. The Netflix description only touches on how the film begins and every time the film settles into a comfortable niche, it changes direction.
Character actor Michael Parks shines as the charismatic preacher Abin Cooper (named after Green Lantern Abn Sur, Smith is such a comics geek). The role was written specifically for Parks after Smith saw him in From Dusk Til Dawn. The character of Abin Cooper is a very scary re-imagining of Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps. Parks also does all of his own singing in this movie and is quite good at that as well.
The federal agents called out are played quite well by John Goodman and Kevin Pollak. For some reason I’m always surprised at how good an actor Goodman can be (probably because I naturally think of Roseanne anytime his name comes up).
If you enjoyed Red State then definitely watch Kevin Smith: Burn in Hell. His talks are normally fascinating (if a little self-indulgent) but this one details his experiences making this film and talking with members of the Westboro Baptist Church.
People Watch: Michael Parks reprises his From Dusk til Dawn role of Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in both parts of Kill Bill and both parts of Grindhouse (Death Proof and Planet Terror). His real life son James Parks plays his Texas Ranger son Edgar McGraw in the Death Proof segment of Grindhouse, Kill Bill volume 1, and From Dusk til Dawn 2 as well as playing Mordecai in Red State.