Not your usual light-hearted Kevin Smith fare, Red State introduces us to a depraved group of characters and a Middle America which wouldn’t be out of place in a Tobe Hooper film.

This is a complete change in artistic direction from the voice behind cult classics such as Clerks and Mallrats and a timely one as it looked like “Smith’” films were beginning to lose their edge, with stale and unoriginal recent works including Cop Out and Clerks 2.

Many “true” Christians may take offence…

The films structure is comparable to Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn, with the narrative almost sliced down the middle; the horror of the fundamentalists’ despicable actions (preluded in length by the “God hates fags” preaching of Pastor Abin Cooper) and the Waco style stand-off with the introduction of the always watchable John Goodman as ATF Agent Keenan.

Many “true” Christians may take offence but I am sure Smith is only looking to target a specific sect of religiously misguided fanatics, especially considering the obvious use of real-life parallels he draws from the Waco Siege and Pastor Fred Phelps among others.

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Although I am still unsure of Smith’s exact intentions and purpose for the film (like Tarantino, elements of his work still come across as narcissistic), it is a micro study of the minority groups who use religion to rule and manipulate others.

Red State will soon be included in many cult lists ready to be scrutinised or advocated. It lives long in the memory due to its abrupt violence, taboo subject material and for its audience dividing, Coen-esque finale.

4 Stars

Images courtesy of Red State



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