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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Red State is the story of 3 high-school lads who are desperate to get laid. Responding to an online advert, the guys show up at a remote trailer and at the insistence of the lady of the house, down their beers. Waking up confused and disorientated, it's clear the trio have been waylaid by the militant and bigoted 5-Points church (a thinly-veiled swipe at the Westborough Baptist Church), led by Pastor Abin Cooper (The brilliant Michael Parks - Kill Bill, Volume 2) who are renowned for picketing anything to do with homosexuality and amorality in society.

With the guys held hostage and about to "meet Jesus" at the hands of the church, the ATF coincidentally show up at the church compound to serve a warrant concerning the purchase of fully-automatic weapons, mere weeks before a change in the law prohibited ownership of them. It turns out the ATF are correct and a massive stand-off & resultant shoot-out ensues when said fully-automatic weapons are let loose. With the government's orders to 'clean-up' this domestic terrorist cell and the religious fanatics zeal, neither side is willing to back down, will anyone survive this complete political mess of church vs. state?

Well, where to begin? Red State is a political hand grenade quite simply, it's sure to inflame tensions both side of the fence as blame is equally apportioned. It's also immensely violent and in these respects really hasn't had to bite it's tongue to fit in with any studio's idea of acceptability (Director Kevin Smith is self-distributing the film).

The acting is fantastic, most notably John Goodman (The Big Lebowski) and especially Michael Parks whos softly-spoken old-testament religious fervour actually begins to make sense until you shake off his irrational arguments. Where RS falls down however is that it is a bit preachy (appreciated it's about a firebrand preacher) but it makes all of the law-enforcement officials and church members equally despicable leaving you no-one to root for. Whilst Goodman provides the only champion, even he doesn't come off well. As a result, I really felt Red State was missing a message apart from the obvious "religious extremism is bad" and "the government are a bit shoot-first, ask-questions-later".

Completely different from anything out there at the moment, well filmed and well directed by Kevin Smith, this has attracted all sorts of negative press, but it's unique and unabashed, for that reason alone it will make you think and consequently it's well worth a watch!
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on 3 September 2015
A surprisingly violent and striking film by Kevin Smith, no more ironic but critical and nightmarish in his approach to an absurd and excessive story of guns, rednecks and anti-state environment.
Smith leaves irony, a black and dark one, at the end, when the film seems to take another unpredictable direction.
But the good thing about it, is that this is not a torture film like the awful and pointless stuff produced by Eli Roth, but a moral provocation where, getting to end of the story, you do not feel confident you've been supporting the right side....
Smith is also talented in casting Michael Parks and Melissa Leo and giving them lifetime roles
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Three school friends use a website to meet up with a woman who promises them shenanigans, it's certainly a night they will never forget...

While some have criticised writer/director Kevin Smith over some of his more recent films, he is still firmly regarded by many as the man behind cult classics such as Clerks and Mallrats - the sort of film which initially seem a bit puerile but reveal themselves to be full of warmth, clever observations and gloriously sweary narrative. In the initial scenes of Red State, banter between the three friends is sharp, sexually obsessed and very Smith-esque but Red State doesn't follow any formula and quickly becomes shocking. They are the victims of entrapment, a fundamental (with emphasis on the 'mental') Christian group has used an adult website in order to "harness the Devil's technique" and lure Godless perverts to cleanse America of its sin.

Those who felt that Smith had gone a bit 'Hollywood' have been silenced with Red State, this feels like a polished independent film which makes every effort to challenge the obvious. You never know what to expect from the film because the twists you see coming never happen, instead it heads off on a tangent and that constant sense of the unexpected gives it an added menace - anything could happen to anyone, no character is safe. Instead of a simple attack on religious zeal we get cynicism aimed at the police and the state itself. I've read comments by some who consider the film to lose cohesion because everything has been thrown at it, I disagree, just because it changes direction every few minutes doesn't mean it has no direction and certain elements have been crafted so perfectly. There's a reason why when surveys are carried out to see who the scariest film villains are, that Hannibal Lector often tops the list over the likes of Freddie Krueger. Cold logic and intelligence are always creepier than a psycho in a mask and Michael Parks is brilliantly intense as Pastor Abin Cooper, he is genuinely disconcerting to watch as he dehumanises homosexuals to justify his motives by separating gays from the rest of the human species. For him, it isn't murder, it's pest control backed up by scripture. He isn't just a bad guy, you understand his motives and see how he has achieved such a passionate following, clearly inspired by the infamous Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church - he takes "God Hates..." beyond banners and pickets.

There's not a poor performance in the entire film and the intrusive way the camera captures a lot of the action enables the atmosphere to really develop. The Blu-Ray looks great, surprisingly so because I expected it to look a little 'low budget', but the picture holds up well especially when you consider that a lot of the film takes place in near darkness. It's not as technically fantastic as most modern big-studio releases, but it doesn't suffer from any notable issues. There are some good extras on here which are worthy of a watch/listen - but the best companion for this film happens to be Kevin Smith's seperate Burn in Hell DVD in which he discusses the movie industry in general as well as specifics around Red State.

In a nutshell: This is the ultimate battle of church versus state. More a social satire than a horror - but with such a genuinely terrifying villain, this can proudly call itself a horror. I hope that Kevin Smith will continue to 'do his own thing' if the results are like this. I was going to give this 4 stars but it has stuck with me long after watching it and I feel quite defensive of it after reading a lot of negative stuff about it, usually from folk half expecting to see Jay appear and say how f*****d up it all is!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 January 2013
As you can see from the broad range of reviews you'll either like this film or hate it,personally I regret this purchase but it was my own fault for being influenced by the cover art and quentin tarantino quote which I suspect he made without actually seeing this absolute rubbish.If like me you read the product description and think it sounds like a good movie you won't be alone but don't be decieved as it basically describes the entire plot except it makes it sound a hundred percent better than it actually is.I've given it 2 stars because Melissa leo and john goodman put in a good performance but that's the only positive thing that can be said about this film,don't waste your money and if you ignore this warning then good luck because you've got exactly 85 minutes of boredom ahead.2/10
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on 1 April 2016
Superb and very creepy performances, especially from Michael Parks and Melissa Leo. It's not like anything I've ever seen before, it's creepy, tense, action packed, explosive, funny, surprising, shocking . . . it really keeps you guessing as to where the film is heading. A very different film from the guy who brought us Jay and Silent Bob! :o)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 February 2016
I've always been a great fan of Kevin Smith and his comedies, but I'm also a great fan of horror and thrillers so I was very keen to see this film. Red State is a very good movie with plenty of suspense and twists. It still has the feel of a smith movie with some of the dialogue, but I think someone who dislikes his previous comedies could still enjoy this.
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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
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on 6 January 2014
Kevin Smith's 3rd movie based outside of the viewaskewniverse is perhaps his worst movie? It starts out ok, your typical teen horror movie where some school kids plan to go on a road trip somewhere amazing, in this case a few miles away to go have sex with someone they met on the Internet. Then they are drugged and kidnapped and taken to a church where Michael Parks character steals the show. However, I believe this movie promised to be a horror movie? Well it's the first horror movie I've seen where nothing happens for most of the movie. Kevin Smith is known for his dialogue strong movies, which is great when you're listening to two people talk about Star Wars, Kryptonite condoms, man hating dykes, Loki giving god the finger,, lord of the rings etc... but when you go watch a horror movie and the main horror scene is 20mins of a guy talking about how god hates gays, it's kinda boring. then John Goodman's character is introduced, and he spends a good 10 mins talking on the phone (only his voice can be heard mind you, so it a boring one way convo), the final scenes are of the cops going to war with this murderous church, but given the order to kill everyone even hostages, you kinda think 'what? Why? Why do they have to kill the hostages? This doesn't make sense?' then the film comes to a conclusion and rather than end it with an action scene and some small dialogue, it cuts away from the action to Goodman's character telling his superiors how the whole thing ended and cue more dialogue (about another 10-15mins worth).
I love Kevin Smith, but I'm not sure that horror is his strong point.i found myself thinking 'Jay and Silent Bob should be In this film' it wouldn't make sense, but it would add some life to it.
Its an ok watch if you've nothing else to do, but Smith really needs to go back to comedy. Its a shame though as this film did have potential.
Maybe he'll get it right with his next movie, Tusk (also a horror movie. Although it does look like a human centipede rip off).
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 January 2012
From the cheeky chappie who brought us such happy-go-lucky feel-good movies such as Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy, Kevin Smith now brings us Red State - a horror about three geeky teenage boys who get abducted by a bible-bashing cult in middle America.

First of all it becomes clear that there's not going to be any humour in this one (and don't expect to see Jay and Silent Bob turning up to crack a couple of witticisms), but that's okay - I've seen my fair share of what I believe they call `torture p*rn' and I there is a market for it. That's how the first third of the movie sets itself up as - three guys about to be killed (ala Hostel) by a cult. I found that a fair premise and was happy to watch on. Then it all sort of fell apart and went all over the place.

The story doesn't seem to know who it wants to stay with - the hostages, their captors, or the incompetent police force sent to `rescue' them. John Goodman is decent enough as the leader of the police (or ATF to be precise), but he sort of takes over the last half. Also, baring in mind that Kevin Smith directed it, the direction is naturally good.

Red State will find a market - there are enough people to like this sort of film. It just didn't do anything for me. I've seen better and at least I managed to care something about the cast (as I found most of this lot pretty unlikeable). Plus there was a scene with the preacher in the first half that just went on too long - he was preaching a sermon and I ended up fast-forwarding it. Also (personal gripe) they upset a small child for no real reason near the end (or rather the child looked pretty upset - I'll give them the benefit of the doubt if they somehow managed to get the little toddler to act that upset).

Overall: had a few good points, but not for me.

(Kevin Smith still rocks though - come back Jay and Silent Bob!)
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on 17 June 2016
Kevin Smith steps away from his usual material and produces an absolutely brilliant film. Astoundingly good, well written and thought provoking. Another reason for Smith to be my absolute favourite director
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