Red State (18)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Sep 27 2011Spurned by the cool reception afforded to his lacklustre Hollywood efforts ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno’ and ‘Cop Out’, Kevin Smith returns to his DIY roots for this bizarre political satire. The film’s pre-release hoopla – it was privately funded, self-distributed in the US and picketed by Louis Theroux’s favourite Jesus freaks the Westboro Baptist Church – led many to believe that ‘Red State’ would be a work of real outsider cinema; a furious, evangelist-baiting statement of atheistic intent. But while the film doesn’t live up to these expectations, there’s plenty to enjoy in this oddball Southern gothic romp.
Smith’s stated intention was to make ‘Red State’ his first all-out horror movie, but the finished film doesn’t quite fit that remit. The set-up is pure torture porn, as three inexperienced high schoolers, led by Michael Angarano’s Travis, accept an offer from a mysterious hooker (a wonderfully trashy Melissa Leo), only to find themselves drugged and strung up by a nutso fire-and-brimstone cult. Thereafter, matters take a weirder turn, as the compound comes under fire from an armed ATF unit led by John Goodman.
On many levels, ‘Red State’ is a mess: it’s clumsily directed, messily structured and desperately unsubtle in its political outlook. But for all its faults, this is a film which feels impassioned and idiosyncratic. If nothing else, it’s nice to see this director refusing to play by the rules of the multiplex.
Author: Tom Huddleston