I love all his movies, and I’ve seen every movie in theaters on opening day since Dogma, for which I wasn’t even old enough to by a ticket. And I did see Red State back in July, during the Red State of the Union tour, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to review it. It just doesn’t feel right, probably because I’m clearly biased in favor of everything Smith does. So, this is not a review. This is merely me telling you why I loved Red State.
When three horny high school boys (Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, Nicholas Braun) respond to an online invitation for sex, the lustful would-be fornicators find themselves prisoners of Reverend Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) and his Five Points Trinity Church, a frightening cult-like group of hateful fundamentalist Christian zealots, loosely based on Reverend Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church and their preachings that “God hates fags.”
With the boys inside trying to escape, a group of ATF agents–led by Joseph Keenan (John Goodman)–attempting to raid the church, and the congregation’s die-hard belief that they are messengers of God, beholden to no laws of man, the church’s compound erupts in violence reminiscent of the siege of the Branch Davidian’s Waco, Texas compound.
You’ve never seen a Kevin Smith movie like this. Red State is his most visually dynamic movie yet. It’s kinetic. Between cinematographer David Klein’s propulsive handheld camera work and Smith’s snappy editing, everything just pops. Smith has written a disarmingly naturalistic tale, a shocking yet truly non-traditional horror film that’s frightening in a different way. It’s disturbingly far from far-fetched.
Of course, the amazing performances are what really sell Smith’s story. Michael Parks brings so much charisma to Abin Cooper, playing equal parts folksy preacher and ominously rancorous doomsayer, drawing you in to Cooper’s unsettling convictions.
Melissa Leo is equally unsettling as Sara, Abin’s daughter, the malicious matriarch and the Cooper clan’s second in command. And when isn’t John Goodman great? He shines as conflicted ATF Agent Keenan, anxious to avoid casualties.
I could go on and on, the cast includes so many fine actors: Kevin Pollak, Stephen Root, Matt Jones, James Parks, Kerry Bishé, Ralph Garman, Betty Aberlin… they’re all great.
I think Quentin Tarantino said it best, “I fucking love this movie!”
Check out Red State and Smith’s SModcast Podcast Network.