When i saw that Red State was finally available for streaming, i knew i had to check it out. I figure most people know about this one, but for those who don’t here is the basic plot synopsis. There is a small spoiler present in my review, but its nothing that couldn’t be guessed from the trailer.
Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.
I will admit i came into this with the expectation the fundamentalists would be the obvious bad guys while everybody else would look like a saint in comparison. And in the beginning it does seem to be heading that way, with a scene that is a obvious reference to the infamous Westboro Baptist Church led by Fred Phelps. But as it goes on it becomes less of a indictment of religion and more a indictment of fanaticism, and the tragic consequences that can come out of that.
Yes, the fundamentalists in the movie are definitely not good guys, but the way authorities handles the crisis when it gets involved isn’t all that great either. IMO neither side ends up looking like the good guy here. Both take rather extreme measures, which doesn’t end well for everybody. Also, both sides have at least one character who tries to take a reasonable route to keep the situation under control when outside forces around them seems to want to escalate the situation far beyond what it needs to be.
Overall, this is a surprising intelligent movie that shows how situations can escalate quickly when cooler heads are unable to prevail. He shows how both sides suffer when those at the top decide to act based on feeling and prejudice instead of for the common good, and the devastation extreme decisions can cause. Smith also doesn’t shy away from showing the brutal consequences said decisions have. Kevin Smith uses a gritty, unstylized look, making this seem like something that could happen today.
The acting in this movie is top notch, but Michael Parks in particular gives a amazing performance as the fanatical preacher.He seems like someone who could easily convince people to follow his more extreme agenda,practically stealing every scene he is in.
There is some foul language in the movie, mainly from the 3 teen characters but for me it fit the story. I definitely recommend this one. It is definitely much more than it seems at first, and while Smith may have started it in reaction to people like Fred Phelps i don’t belie the movie to be anti-religous. I think Smith showed a surprising maturity with this movie, and i hope he continues it.