Written and Directed by Kevin Smith
Starring Michael Parks, John Goodman, and Melissa Leo
2.5 Stars (out of 4)
Red State is available on most V.O.D platforms as of 9/1/11
Expectations are a curse. My expectations for a horror movie directed by Kevin Smith were very high. Its possible that I would have enjoyed Red State more if I didn't know who it was directed by.
The movie starts by introducing us to three horny, foul-mouthed highschool students. Which is to say, it starts out like a typical Kevin Smith film. These three kids are absolutely worthless. They aren't evil, just jerks. One of the heathen has been texting with a prostitute who has sent him dirty pictures. He convinces his friends to drive out to this anonymous hooker's residence for some gang-bang action.
In some of the most blatant foreshadowing ever, there are mentions of a fundamentalist Christian cult in the area. They have a habit of protesting the funerals of gay people. The movie makes a verbal distinction between this cult and the Westboro Baptist Church ran by Fred Phelps. Despite what the studio wants us to think, this group is obviously based on Westboro Baptist.
The next step was obvious, so obvious that I hoped it would be avoided. The three worthless teens find their whore at a run down trailer in the middle of nowhere. She's not exactly the beauty they had envisioned. She's (at least) in her 40's and not in a sexy Nicole Kidman way either. Does this stop the boys? No. One of the boys says it will be like screwing his own mom, but for some reason that doesn't cause any hesitation. The woman gives them beer, lots of beer. Like most horror movie beverages, this beer is drugged.
The kids wake up in a church. You will not be shocked to learn this church is that same gay-bashing cult that was so subtly mentioned earlier in the film. It turns out they don't approve of guy on guy on guy on girl action.
I didn't know who to root for.at this point in the film. The kids are obnoxious little bastards who I would have enjoyed seeing tortured slowly. However, I'm not a fan of self-righteous gay hating "Christian" cults either.
Luckily the viewer doesn't have to choose because John Goodman enters the film. He leads an ATF team that engages in a Waco-like standoff with the cult. Thank goodness he's there to save the day.
Then Agent Goodman (does his character's name matter?) gets a call. Its a supervisor giving him a direct order. There had been some mishandling earlier that lead to a premature shooting. To compensate for this, his supervisor orders him to kill all the men, women, and children in the compound so that there are no witnesses.
So who do you root for now? Easy. THE CREDITS!
Honestly though, its not completely unenjoyable. It has moments of wit that we've come to expect from Kevin Smith. Michael Parks playing the cult leader is an absolute joy to watch. Melissa Leo is impressive at being equal parts devoted and deluded. John Goodman is his normal jovial self in the scenes before and after the compound standoff. So if you can forgive the plot for flying off the rails and don't mind a grotesque amount of obscene language, then you might actually enjoy red state.