Red State Reviews
If you can move past the politics of this movie, it becomes this cinematic experience where Smith almost dares you to like Parks character.
I did like the weird spin on conventional thriller/drama themes, shot almost Dogma circa 96 style, this little low to no budget movie kept me gripped throughout.
Parks smashes it with long dialogue moments, cruel almost unhuman moments and even batshit crazy suicidal rightousness, Goodman is fantastic as always and nice to see Kevin Pollack crop up too.
If you watch this movie with no prior knowledge of Kevin Smith movies then you will pleasantly surprised at the action, dialogue and the overall Lynch-style gritty lens you're forced to watch this magnificent masterpiece through.
Not Smiths best, but still a monument to independent filmaking at its finest and also a way for Smith to show that deep down, beneath all the podcasts, publicity, tv shows and noise, he is and always will be an exceptional indie filmaker.
Kevin Smith is nothing if not daring. After two artistically unsatisfying films back to back ("Cop Out" and "Zack and Miri Make A Porno") he decided to try something that's never been done before. The end result is this (the story of how he managed to get this unsellable film to the public is a fascinating adventure you're better off reading about somewhere else.)
Three horny teens looking for a good time. A sheriff with a secret. An ATF special agent who lets his better judgement be overtaken by orders from the head office and his own personal reasons. And a cult of LGBT hating lunatics who have few believers but a lotta guns all come together one fateful day in a way that will change (or end) their lives forever.
A lot of people like to add "horror" to the list of things this movie is, and others argue there's no "horror" in this at all. Let me tell you: as we are forced, as one of the main teen characters is, to listen in on crazy Pastor Cooper (played by Michael Parks, formerly the best kept secret in Hollywood) sermonizing about how gays aren't human and how "we" must destroy them all, while rationalizing and twisting his Biblical doctrine to suit his own misplaced mentality, is far scarier than some boogeyman jumping out of a shadow yelling "Boo." As for action...let's just say this has what "Cop Out" didn't. There's laughs. There's thrills. And there's stuff to make you think.
In the end, don't worry about what genre this belongs to. Just give it a try.
My only understanding as to why this has been rated so low is because it offends the religious right and the liberal left at the same time.
The score is haunting and the entire film has a very dark tone, we've seen Kevin doing comedy, we've even seen some drama. But this I think was something completely new from him. If it didn't have his name all over it, I'd swear it was from Quentin Tarantino. The hyper-violent nature, the fact that everyone is corruptible, the fact that noone is safe... It was fucking beautiful.
And I just looked this up, it was number 8 on QT's list of films of 2011.
Been doing a bit of a Kevin Smith "Binge" and this certainly was jarring and different from his other works. Well done good sir, well done.
At one point in the movie a teacher references the Westboro Baptist Church, the obvious inspiration for this movie, and says in affect, "Yah those guys are bad, but not as bad as these guys." That's not how you do a metaphor. You can't compare the thing you're trying to write about with your fictional work and make it seem thought provoking and intriguing. It would be like making a movie where the plot was an allegory for the Holocaust and then having a person in the middle of it say, "Wow, this is just like the Holocaust only worse." That's bad script writing.
The movie does have some strong character acting in it, and the stuff with the government agents is a much better allegory for the government's bumbling of the Waco Texas disaster. That being said, it's not enough to save the film as a whole.