DarikHouseknecht's Rating of Red State

Darik's Review of Red State

4 years ago via Flixster
Red State

Red State(2011)

You know, for a while there I was really worried that Kevin Smith had pretty much had it as a filmmaker. The guy refused to stretch beyond the boundaries he'd established for himself in Clerks, and when he finally did try something new with Cop Out, the results were... well, less than spectacular. It seemed like the man was on the downward slide into obscurity. Little did I know, however, that Smith still had at least one great movie left up his sleeve...Red State is easily Smith's most mature and polished film to date, demonstrating a visual flair that his movies up until now had been sorely lacking and ditching the juvenile comedy in favor of tension, horror, and social commentary. The movie has this fantastic experimental feel to it-- it's very raw and gritty-looking (despite the fact that it's got some decent special effects in it and lots of color correction), and you can feel Smith pushing himself in every single frame, putting some serious thought into his shot compositions, camera movements, and editing choices. He's also pushing himself as a storyteller, turning out a film that hits you like a punch in the gut and doesn't shy away from being bleak or cynical. And given the subject matter, there's a lot of cynicism to be found: Red State deals with religious extremism in the context of middle-American Christianity, depicting a hyper-exaggerated sect of violent Baptists not unlike the Fred Phelps-led Westboro Baptist Church (the one that pickets military funerals and generally embarrasses the religious community), while at the same time illustrating the brutal antipathy of government agencies that are meant to dispassionately police them. It's the sort of movie that doesn't sugar-coat its messege, instead forcing you to confront difficult ethical issues head-on and refusing to give you any easy answers. Bottom line: this is the ballsiest movie Kevin Smith has ever made. It's not a pleasant film to watch at times, but it's a damn good one.The story has a set-up that sounds somewhat like a predictable cross between Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Hostel: three horny high school guys take a late night trip to a small town in the middle of nowhere to meet a woman they found on the Internet for sex. (more to come)