Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Red State

Kevin Smith steps way out of his comfort zone of indie comedies and the expectation of many of the fans of Silent Bob, with the thriller "Red State". It is his appreciation for the honest and pure film making process that is at the heart of this film. Independently financed, Kevin Smith refused to answer to any preset Hollywood ideals. "Red State" is reminiscent of the Grindhouse films from Quentin Tarintino, Robert Rodriguez, Eli Roth, Edgar Wright and Rob Zombie. These writer/directors have become masters of the indie horror/thriller in recent years and have inspired a new generation of indie film makers along with Kevin Smith.

The film begins innocently in any Middle American town, and quickly becomes complicated by a protest at a church by extreme fundamentalists. The first half of the film focuses on three high school boys, Travis (Michael Angarano), Jarod (Kyle Gallner) and Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun), who think they found a woman, Sara (Melissa Leo), on the Internet willing to have sex with them. Kevin Smith interjects with his witty writing that "craigslist is for people who want to get fucked". What the teenage boys don't realize is that it's all a setup by the extreme fundamentalists who lure sinners to their compound. The fundamentalist beliefs are preached by the patriarch Abin (Michael Parks) and in the second half of the film is confronted by government agents led by Joseph Kennan (John Goodman) and Harry (Kevin Alejandro).
However, when a standoff-turned-shootout begins, and the government decides that it doesn't want to make the dispute a public, the confrontation becomes a moral choice for those involved.

The performances from Michael Parks and John Goodman stand above all others. Michael Parks brings the fire and brimstone to his style of preaching that make him so quickly despised. His performance is chilling and is equaled in every way by John Goodman. This is one of the best performances Goodman has had in years and continues to show that he is having a great year on screen combined with "the Artist".

Kevin Smith doesn't take a delicate approach to his exposition on understanding the views of extreme fundamentalists. The words of the sermon are counterbalanced by the teacher in the classroom and a difficult phone call that Agent Kennan must have with his superiors. Specifically with the phone conversations, the dialogue is difficult to follow as it is a one-sided conversation that doesn't present well on screen.

While this isn't the best film for Kevin Smith, it is certainly a refreshing step in a new direction. He has said he is retiring, but hopefully this won't be true and he can continue as one of the best indie film makers. The film has its flaws, but is still worth seeing and receives 3 Quacks.

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