Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Review - Red State ( 2011 - Kevin Smith)

I hadn't heard anything about this but I saw it advertised and saw the words 'Kevin Smith' and 'horror'. I really liked Smith's run on Daredevil where he killed off Karen Page, so a horror film by him can't be all bad. 

The 'horror' tag is a bit of a red-herring, because what starts off as a standard issue horror opener - three randy teenage lads get the offer of a foursome, drink some dodgy pop with the lovely lady, fall unconscious and wake up in the hands of an extreme right-wing church cult/sect thing - gradually morphs into something different and, in truth, more interesting. It is very hard to genrelise it. Which is good. 

As expected, the script is witty and clever. When the leader of the church, Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) starts to preach and quote the scriptures you can clearly see the logical links that can be made if you believe in the bible to the letter and carefully choose which parts to quote. It all seems so rational. Don't get worried about me. I did say 'if'. (The last time I set foot in a church, I had third degree burns within milliseconds and I had to be driven off by my dad, who just so happens to look a bit like Gregory Peck.) Anyway, I can't quite recall there being a passage in the bible that relates to killing gay men through the use of a gun, shrink wrap and a gimp ball. Cooper's lesson seems to fall apart at that point.

Initially, I was a bit sceptical when John Goodman made an appearance as an agent type. The first sections contains unknowns (to me anyway) so it was jarring when in steps a big-name star. You expect him to be funny and he is. But the humour is very understated and he can actually play quite emotional scenes. He really grew on me during the course of the film.

You can never tell where Red State is going next. Is it a straight horror? A comedy? A siege drama? Is it a comment on extreme religious views? Or on the way that the US Government deals with 'undesirables'? It's a bit of everything. A veritable pick 'n' mix feast of filmic goodness. I can't say that I'd want to see it again, part of the fun is not knowing what to expect, but it's definitely worth watching once.

If you like this you could also try:
(Being such a broad mix of genres, there's nothing really like it, that I can think of. Just watch it and enjoy.)

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