Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Horror Challenge Oct 13: RED STATE

RED STATE (2011)

Kevin Smith's controversial thriller is by no means a horror film, no matter how much he or his fans try to tell you it is. But much to my surprise is actually IS a fine little film. Mostly sure handed, offering no easy answers, exciting when it should be, brutal and ugly when it needs to be, and forces a lot of thoughtful ideas into the laps o an audience that probably would never give any of those ideas a chance had Smith's name not been attached. The movie only falls down in the last reel when it seems that Smith himself seemingly just couldn't handle not throwing in his typical smarmy smartass humor,and a final walk off image that simply doesn't work. But 90% of the movie that leads up to it is challenging stuff.

The movie begins with a small scene in a high school class room where a very liberal teacher goes over the first and second amendment briefly and how it applies to the FIVE POINTS CHURCH and their leader ABIN COOPER (in a galvanizing performance by Michael Parks). This church are basically a version of the Fred Phelps clan protesting any and everything to do with Homosexuals. That they are agents of Satan. In the High School class are three teen boys
Jared (Kyle Gallner), Travis (Michael Angarano)
and Billy Ray (Nicholas Braun) have been talking to a middle aged woman online about meeting her for group sex. On the way to meet this woman they run into a parked car, inside of which a gay couple are having sex. Which turns out to be the town Sheriff and his secret gay lover, This is a key point of interest later in the story. The kids meet the woman (Melissa Leo) at a trailer park and she drugs them and takes them hostage for the FIVE POINTS CHURCH and Abin Cooper who intends to slaughter them during one of his sermons as a sacrifice to the lord to show he is cleansing the Earth of the filth and sodomites. The Sheriff has sent his Deputy out to find who hit his car, more to see who might have found out his secret than anything. The Deputy finds something amiss at the Church and gets shot for his trouble, Leading the Sheriff to call in the BATF lead by John Goodman who have been trying to find solid evidence that the church have been hiding guns on the premises. But when the BATF get on the site and their commands go south once the shooting starts, the government's involvement is as questionable as the church's.

The movie is a clear acid in the face of the WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH and their evil protesting of Gay rights issues, soldier's funerals and everything else they do. RED STATE could be easily summed up as THE WESTBORO CHURCH discovers the second Amendment and becomes THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS. But what makes it so unique is that for the most part Smith is careful to not lay too much of the blame at one one particular door step. The fanatical church is clearly shown as misguided people, blinded by their religion. But when the government is called in the decisions made by them are really no less fanatical or humane. Once again no easy answers are given, and no chance at true living or presented. Just as much faceless slaughter is there.

Kevin Smith loses his focus in two sections of the movie. In the last ten minutes of the movie he slips back int his normal smart ass, snarky writing with several new major characters making useless sexual/ comedic banter that is very out of place. Also the plotting ends up turning on a very loose bit of very lucky plot devices that feel like he had painted himself into a corner and needed something o get out quick. Also the handling of the gay Sheriff character is fumbled pretty badly, making him a drunk, insecure character, which would be fine, but with him being the only openly gay character in the film to make him a laughing stock and a loser it sends a bad vibe to the audience. Also killing him of violently sends a nasty message to the audience. But my theory is the Sheriff is the stand in for Kevin Smith himself, the very in the closet gay guy who can't come out at all under in circumstances, that it would ruin his life if he did. So it is ok to make that character a bit of a laughing stock. At least in Smith's own eyes.

But those are the few small complaints. For the most par I still say this is Smith's most mature film, even with the small slip ups, and if he intends to keep making movies in the this vein I will be glad to see what he is up to in the future.

Review © Andrew Copp

No comments:

Post a Comment