Red State movie review

red-state-movie-kevin-smithstars-three-halfLet’s start this review up with  a quote from Wikipedia:

Kevin Smith announced at the Wizard World Chicago 2006 convention that his next project would move in a different direction, and it would be a straight horror film.

I was surprised to hear that Kevin Smith was working on a horror film, as I think anybody familiar with his body of work would be.
My understanding is that Mr. Smith stuck to this claim from 2006 until the eventual 2011 release of Red State, and the movie does play as a horror film…

spoiler alert

…for the first twenty minutes or so. 

Initially, we are setup with three suburban boys who arrange via the internet to meet an older woman for the purposes of group sex.  On the way to meet the woman at her trailer, they accidentally side swipe a car, which was coincidentally occupied by the local sheriff, who was in the midst of a secret homosexual encounter.  After the boys arrive at the woman’s trailer, she gives them two beers each, which are laced with a powerful sedative.  They wake up in the Cooper’s compound; a local family of Christian fundamentalists who take the job of being crazy for Jesus seriously.  Two of the boys kind themselves in the basement below the Cooper’s church while the other is locked in a cage in the church proper, along with another man who is tied to the cross.  This man is executed by the Coopers and then dropped via trap door into the basement.  Meanwhile, the sheriff orders his deputy to find the car that side swiped him, which eventually leads him to the Coopers, as the car is parked in front of their home.  While he’s in the midst of questioning Abner Cooper (the patriarch of the family) two of the boys escape, and shots are fired as one of the boys is killed along with one of the Coopers.  The Deputy hears this and calls in the disturbance, but the Coopers kill him too.  Abner uses the patrol car’s radio and tells the sheriff he knows of his secret homosexual life and will out him using compromising photographs  if the sheriff decides to pursue the Coopers.  Instead, the sheriff contacts the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which has been trying to build a case against the Coopers for years, and the ATF quickly surround the premises and demands the Coopers surrender.

Hilarious antics ensue.

I won’t spoil the entire movie for you, but from this point on (well, perhaps 10 minutes before this moment), the movie stops being a horror movie and becomes something of an action thriller.  John Goodman portrays the ranking ATF officer on the scene and along with Michael Parks (who is AWESOME SAUCE in this movie) as Abner Cooper, the two most compelling characters face off in a bloody battle of conflicting ideologies, corruption and ass kickery.  As for characters, there’s not much else going on.  Melissa Leo is great as Abner’s daughter and I enjoyed Kerry Bishé as his granddaughter, but most of the other characters are mostly one note editions.  The first three kids we meet never really get developed; I’m pretty sure one of their names was Billy Ray, but that’s about the most I can tell you about any of them.  Kevin Pollak is in the movie for about five minutes, but his appearance has great shock value.

As in Cop Out, Dave Klein shows me that he is up to the challenge of creating great images, although I have to say that whole ‘the camera is attached to me’ shot (I believe it’s called the body mount shot; I first saw it in Requiem for a Dream) is pretty tired at this point; still, the editing by Kevin Smith makes quick use of this technique, so it’s not too annoying.  I don’t know which one of them wanted to use that shot, but, in my opinion, not a good idea.


The body mount shot shows up a few times in the trailer – check it at 1:18ish.

In it’s way, Red State is a twist movie; but instead of a plot twist, it’s a genre twist.  It’s not a perfect movie, and the end is a little flat, but I enjoyed it.

And now, for my grand finale, I present to you, as told to me by the internet, the original scripted ending to Red State:

During various interactive Q&As for the film, Smith has stated that the original ending actually continued through with the trumpets signaling the Rapture. After Cooper tells Keenan to shoot him, Cooper’s chest explodes, followed by the remaining family members’ chests exploding one by one, and then the remaining agents’ chests exploding one by one. During these deaths, the ground shakes and splits, and Keenan curls up on the ground and closes his eyes. When he opens his eyes he sees the last agent killed with a giant sword coming out of his chest, which is being wielded by an enormous armored angel. The angel looks at Keenan, puts a finger to his lips, and says “shhhhh”. The angel then flies off into the sky, and as the angel banks out of the picture the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse descend.

Kevin Smith says he wrote this ending while he was really high.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on November 22, 2011, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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