Review: 2 out of 4
Kevin Smith’s “ Red State ” begins so well that it’s a shame it ends in such a confused way.
This is the director’s first attempt at a horror-thriller and it shows. It begins with three high schoolers (Michael Angarano, Nicholas Braun, Kyle Gallner) who find an older woman online willing to have sex with them, only once they meet the woman (Oscar Winner Mellissa Leo) at her trailer, the boys find that she is actually part of the Abin Cooper religious congregation. Cooper (Michael Parks) seems modeled after the Westboro Baptist Church , i.e those “Godly” homophobes who picket at dead soldiers funerals.
Abin is a nut who believes the world is filled with rampant immorality and wishes to cleanse it clean with his own modified artillery. Parks is really excellent here, in one speech in particular, filled with righteous intolerance and snake-like creepiness.
The boys are kidnapped by the church and trapped in a back-woods house with these lunatics, as we assume horrific punishments await them. There are a few suspenseful moments here but then Smith does a 180 and brings in ATF agents, led by John Goodman, who are told to take down the entire church as if it were a terrorist cell. From there a bloody shoot-out begins, but with no one to care about, and the horror stops dead in its tracks so Smith can moralize about, not just the church, but the government.
Did Smith want us to feel bad that the church’s rights are being infringed upon?
If so then Smith shouldn’t have made them so much like…well, terrorists in the first half of the film. Its starts off suspenseful, but then just gets preachy and muddled.