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Red State [DVD]
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In Middle America, three teenagers travel to Cooper's Dell after responding to an older woman's online invitation for sex. However, their schoolboy fantasy turns sinister as Christian extremists, led by the twisted preacher Abin Cooper (Michael Parks), hold them captive in a compound known as the Five Points Church. As the Pastor and his congregation embark on a reign of terror forcing the boys to witness executions before being prepared for their own death, they have to contend with the arrival of Federal Agent Joseph Keenan (John Goodman) and his team who are armed, dangerous and ready to bring them all down.
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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
After the beginning of the film, this was pretty much a fairly run-of-the-mill action flick for a while. However, the end of the film then had a jokey atmosphere. Thus, this was very much a film of 3 parts: thriller, shoot 'em up and comedy, with none of the 3 parts having any real depth. I did not find this to be very satisfactory. What I wanted was a 'conspiracy' film a la 'Rosemary's Baby' or 'The Firm'. I did not want a shoot-'em-up action film or comedy.
Red State is an example of bad marketing. Billed as a horror film this probably ended up disappointing a lot of people. It isnt a horror film at all. It is an action thriller and should have been pushed in that vein. It starts off slowly building a tension and creating some interesting characters. Three teenagers decide to follow up on an advert from a prostitute. They drive out to the middle of nowehere where they are kidnapped and subjected to horrible practices.
Then the film takes a dramatic turn. In struts John Goodman, in a role that he chews to within an inch of its life, an the final hour is a bombastic gun fest between a bemused police force and a relentless religious cult. Its briliant fun.
John Goodman is just great in this film. He really lets loose and throws everything into the pot. Kevin Smith proves he can direct a good action set piece and also creates some marvelous characters which help glue you to the screen through the slower moments. Once the bullets start to fly it doesn't stop and the barrage of action sees the remainder of the film fly by.
A good if forgettable film that would easily fill a 90 minute gap in your evening.
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