Red State

Spurned 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.

Release details

Rated: 18
Release date: Friday September 30 2011
Duration: 88 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: Michael Parks
Melissa Leo
John Goodman

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|11
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Nic Niewart

It starts off like it's going to be a conventional teen slasher 80 minute of gore horror. Three teens in middle USA want to lose their virginity to a hooker. Only one will survive after a splat fest. But then the movie gets seized by a weird far right cult: ok, could still go in that direction: two buddies will get tortured, but the hero one will survive. Only it doesn't get that far. The director saw fit to concentrate on letting the actor who played the cult leader overrun his stay and ramble on and on. Still no torture or the plot developing wityh a pretty girl in the congregation having second thoughts about killing all these white boys. Suddenly cut to John Goodman who plays an ATP man a la Waco.Then all the teens get shot. And most everyone else apart from the cult leader. Cut to John Goodman again being debriefed by some Washington types in striped ties. The End. There's no point to the movie. It's neither an indictment about cults, it's not a warning about the dangers of unprotected sex, nor is it plainly about the machinations of various dirty tricks in different covert agencies. It's all over the place and nowhere all at the same time. The biggest type on the dvd was a quote from Quentin Tarantino :I Freaking Love this Movie! Well, he might have liked it, but I didn't. To put things in perspective, he really raved over Days Of Thunder, the racing picture with Tom Cruise and wife number 2. One of the worst rentals I've ever had.

disappointed filmgoer

I was a bit underwhelmed. Interesting to see John Goodman in lead role, and some unusual scenes particularly near the end, but actually felt like I'd seen it all before. Must be my age.

scrumpyjack

Despite the "good but not excellent" review, nice to see this in the critics choice column!

philsee

Quite believable, especially the casual violence of the Federal suits. Enjoyed it!

pablo

loved it, loved it, loved it!!! The preaching and cell scenes make everyhting else worthwhile. Bit shoot em up but intelligent humour and just enough crazy to be realisitc. Only in America 10/10

pablo

loved it, loved it, loved it!!! The preaching and cell scenes make everyhting else worthwhile. Bit shoot em up but intelligent humour and just enough crazy to be realisitc. Only in America 10/10

critique

Unusual and disjointed. Reminded me a little bit of the Coens. Agree with Film Fanatic and scrumpy that the ending should have been what some thought it was. Two and a half stars.

Film Fanatic

Loved it. I didn't think it was messy, I thought the whole film worked perfectly, even the shootout scenes which were good fun. I didn't mind the ending either, but I think it should have ended with water rising above their feet - The religious nutters were right all along! Unfortunately... that didn't happen :/

Film Fanatic

Loved it. I didn't think it was messy, I thought the whole film worked perfectly, even the shootout scenes which were good fun. I didn't mind the ending either, but I think it should have ended with water rising above their feet - The religious nutters were right all along! Unfortunately... that didn't happen :/

Gort

The movie starts well but then it turns into a shootout barricaded movie which seems like a cheap trick by Kevin to actually avoid the movie until the ending where the last couple of minutes are also very good. I mean it strongly reminds me of what I once heard from a Hollywood guru of how to write a screenplay: "Write the beginning and then write the ending then the middle will make itself." And that's just what this movie is. After the solid beginning and introduction of characters a movie comes to a halt where everybody is shooting at each-other and some minor characters start to have boring and pointless conversations as if Kevin doesn't know what to do with his characters. It's not like "Clerks" where you follow those guys throughout the movie with their ups and downs, confrontations and then changes in them at the end.

scrumpyjack

One man's (errrrr) "Mess" is another's joint film of the year! saw preview last month and (after a busy day) tired, this cracker soon woke me up and finally stopped talking about it 2 hours after it ended (+ many since) Shame about an explanation for a major plot point near the end, simply doesn't work. If it HAD been what some thought it was, this would be the most audacious film i've seen since last years BAD LIEUTENANT. So close....but 4* in anyone's language, surely? 8+/10