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Red State (2011)

Written and Directed by Kevin Smith

Having only heard that this was a Smodcast production had been enough to peak my interest in this project when first released. Because while it is widely known that a certain Quentin and Robert may possess my heart, its Kevin that rounds out my perfect-o trio of filmmakers that I shall forever follow. With the notion of I, among many others not seeing a consistency in this film being only one of the highest compliments I could think to pay. For it simple means that he is progressing as a Director and can only get better from here on out. Except for when he doesn’t; but I’ll just hope that doesn’t happen.

The story follows three friends; Travis (Michael Angarano), Billy-Ray (Nicolas Braun) and Jarod (Kyle Gallner) on their journey for a one night stand that would soon prove to be most memorable. Living in a small town with not much else to do, Jarod had begun speaking with a “girl” online for the past two weeks. With claims of wanting to get up to Devil’s business once they arrived, Sara (Melissa Leo) insisted they down their (already opened) bottles as she wouldn’t have any man in her without at least two beers. Is that how they do it out in the country? Leading them into the bedroom where she instructed them to undress. Each awaking in not just another location but lacking their attire for all the wrong reasons together. Caught in between some wildly sick display of what belief was capable of doing.

With Preacher Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) leading the crazies in his serum to speak on why they had gathered that particular night. Seen as partaking in “God’s work,” they showed sinners the errors of their ways by cleansing them completely. Wrapped up in hypocrisy as they stated the tools of the Devil were in fact the homosexuals. But when it came to the case of killing off such perversions, their God allowing, as they seemed to be doing everyone the favor by removing the insects they were considered.

With one of the boys immediately losing his life as a glimmer of hope proves wrong. Sheriff Wynan (Stephen Root) left with little options as his Deputy Pete (Matt Jones) had been gunned down after shots fired inside the church had stirred up curiosity. Wynan ready to end it all just as a WANTED poster caught his attention and we cue in the great John Goodman as Agent Keenan. Discussing a case that had been under preliminary investigation concerning the members of a church seeking semiautomatic firearms. With several unconfirmed reports that they had obtained “a few,” having also inquired about modifications to be done. Interchanging between our now two stories as Caleb (Sara’s husband) loses his life before Travis is able to make his way outside.

Chaos ensuing as both stories are brought present with a misfire from the local Sheriff bringing forth a challenge from the congregation in an all out battle; “The fucking Church people!” as Goodman so eloquently puts. With those behind the church ready to meet their maker, orders coming in to take out every member. Ending eventually as a ringing of trumpet horns make Cooper and his kin believe their sweet rapture had finally arrived. Coinciding with our third story within the film as the story was being told from Keenan’s perspective while speaking with Agents Hammond (Patrick Fischler) and Young (David Marciano). Discussing the irony of the entire situation, planning to bury them under the Patriot Act because killing people for their belief is an act of terrorism and as we all know, “Terrorists get locked the fucked up.” Their own personal vendettas having nothing to do with settling the score. Keenan would get his promotion and the remaining members of the compound would never see the light of day after everything obtained from the compound in evidence.

The film itself being rather silent (score wise) though minuscule sounds and songs sung by Cooper inhabit the otherwise richly fulfilled script. (A specialty of Smiths) Working only in its favor as the material is so well written, there’s no need for any other noise to compensate for the story as it unfolds. Not forgetting all the little things my favorite Directors put in I’ll assume, if only for my pleasure. Having the gun hidden within Cooper’s Bible, Kevin Pollack for a quick second; having just come off of Cop Out with Smith. Loving that Smith also saw the same talent in Gallner. A different look and feel provided as with the exception of the last sequence, the entirety was shot in handheld; those scattered in your face shots fairing best with the excitement created once entering the main story behind these characters.

There is no denying the intelligence factor behind a filmmaker such as Kevin Smith. While perhaps having made a living off of “ass and fart” jokes for the majority of years, I’ve recently seen a different side to this not so silent Bob, that I for one shall look forward to seeing more of. For after being invited to a special screening of Quentin Tarantino’s From Duck till Dawn, Smith instantly knew he wanted to make a movie with Michael Parks in its entirety. The man having a way of completely taking over a screen with a mere piece of dialogue, with an intent to hear as though the most important piece of information you’d hear in years. Finding out that long time friend Malcolm Ingram, who had made a documentary entitled Small Town Gay Bar, had spoken with Westboro Baptist church front man Fred Phelps. Viewing the entire footage and converting such information into a satirically based thriller that would certainly demand your attention. Beautifully portraying an insanity within the systems of belief while having a cast that executed such vision, making this easily his best film to date.