Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Release Review : Red State



I'm a huge fan of Kevin Smith, both as a person and as a writer/director. I've seen and enjoyed every movie he's made, i've read all of his books and I even watched him do his thing live at Carnegie Hall a couple years back (now that was one hell of a birthday gift!). So I guess you could say i'm a Kevin Smith fanboy, and proud of it. When I heard he was doing a horror movie of sorts, I was ecstatic, but I also couldn't help but ask myself a question. I know he can do humor and I know he can do a love story. But can Kevin Smith pull off a serious horror flick?

My god can he ever. Even as big of a fanboy as I am, i'm still not even sure I knew he had a film like this in him. Kevin Smith, the dick and vagina guy, has directed what I consider to be one of the best horror movies of the year ... go figure!

As you might imagine, Red State is about the furthest thing from movies like Clerks and anything else in the Kevin Smith filmography as you can get. The dicks are replaced by big ass machine guns and there's no Jason Mewes in sight. There's no love story and there's little to no humor after about the 5 minute mark. What we've got here is a dead serious film about religion gone to the extreme, one of the most intense and realistic horror films you'll see this year. Quite frankly, the only thing that even gives off any kind of hint that this is a Kevin Smith film is the fact that it's very dialogue and character based, though even those elements give the film more of a Tarantino feel than anything else. I guess what i'm trying to say is that this isn't really a quote unquote Kevin Smith movie and though that complete 360 degree shift in tone will probably turn off many a Smith fanboy, Red State has personally made me appreciate the man a heck of a lot more as both a writer and a director. With this one he proves that he's more than just the immature humor guy, as anyone who knows a bit about him already knew, and if you're asking me it's the best film he's made to date, a mature and important piece of cinema with a heck of a lot to say about religion and people in general. As brilliant as it is raw, Red State in my opinion needs to be seen by everyone reading this, Kevin Smith fan or not.

The cast all around is terrific, with the standouts being the two opposing leads; Michael Parks and John Goodman. Parks plays the Manson-like cult leader with terrifying conviction and frightening insanity, dancing madly one minute and ordering the executions of anyone who opposes his extremist beliefs the next. He pretty much steals the show but a thinned down John Goodman is not to be outdone as the agent on the other side of the fence. I've always been a big fan of Goodman's, ever since I started watching Roseanne as a kid, and it was awesome to see him back on the screen in a juicy and memorable role, the kind of role that Tarantino would write for an actor like him who really hasn't been too much in the public eye in recent years. There we go with that Tarantino thing again. Not surprised that when I just Google'd "Red State Tarantino" to see if anyone else made the comparison that I found that Smith himself called his movie "a Tarantino film by way of the Coen Brothers." May sound like a bit of self imposed high praise, but I truly couldn't have said it better myself.

Kevin Smith has always been a man with a lot to say, and a man that knows a whole lot about people, and he flexes these strengths in brilliant fashion in Red State, a horror film with as much relevant social commentary as it has violence and brutality. Smith has shown that not only can he explore the more lighthearted and lovey dovey sides of humanity, he can also explore the deepest darkest sides just as effectively. Red State is a powerful film that grabs hold of you and never lets go, with the only reprieve being the humorous ending that highlights the entire point of the film, which i'll allow you to find out for yourself. Leave it to the man who practically built a career on gay humor to write and direct the harshest criticism of homophobes (and anyone else who despises anyone based on differences in belief) perhaps ever put on the screen. It just feels right.

See Red State as soon as you can. It's a true horror film, not about monsters or ghosts, but about real people doing horrible things that real people really do, with the internal belief that they're merely carrying out the work of an imaginary higher power. What could be more terrifying than that?


Jonny Metro said...

Saw this one about a week ago On Demand--my wife and I ordered it for our Anniversary! I truly enjoyed it--my only qualm was the finale (*Minor Spoiler?*), where the ultimate wrap up was not shown, just recounted in exposition. Still, it's just a minor qualm.

I'm a huge fan of the man, too. I love all of his movies (except Jersey Girl. Not a bad movie, but it didn't *feel* like a Kevin Smith movie. Still, you can't go all wrong with Carlin in the cast). I love his Smodcasts, too, and have been listening to Smodcast Internet Radio religiously for the past couple of weeks, trying to get caught up. But with a minimum of 4 NEW hours of material a day, it could take a while.

Nice review, Johnny!


Johnny said...

I know a lot of people have had issues with the ending, but I thought it was perfect. Very Coen Bros-esque. Didn't feel like there was anything we needed to see that we didn't.

Jay Amabile said...

Kevin Smith rules. He needs to stop with this podcasting shit and go back to making movies full time!