Red State Review

by talkbackty on Sep 2, 2011

"What? What the heck is Red State? It's not playing in any theater and I've never heard of it."

That's because Red State is being distributed differently, which will be the topic of my next post. It is now available through a variety of VOD (video on demand) options including, but not limited to; Sony PlayStation,, iTunes, ,YouTube, Microsoft: XBOX: ZUNE ,VUDU (the Walmart platform), Sonic/Cinema Now.

The movie will also be run in theaters around the country. Check the details for a showing near your area. Currently, it also is scheduled to play at the New Beverly in Los Angles weekly.

Don't like reading? Excellent, because we just finished a TalkBack Spoilercast on Red State.

Red State is a film written, directed and edited by Kevin Smith (@thatkevinsmith). If you didn't know that already then maybe you should check out this post regarding the distribution, production, and controversy behind Mr. Smith's latest film.

The movie stars an excellent cast including Michael Parks as Abin Cooper, Melissa Leo as Sarah Cooper and John Goodman as ATF Agent Keenan. The supporting cast is also a talented group and you will probably recognize a few faces from TV or other movies.

Abin Cooper is a pastor modeled after the infamous Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church. His large, dedicated family fill the pews of his chapel located within his own house. He preaches a hyper-right wing platform about the wickedness of America, and how all sinners should be dealt with through righteous damnation (read kidnapping people and executing them on a cross).

After the abduction of a few local town boys goes poorly, the ATF arrives and all hell breaks loose. 

There's your synopsis.

Let's not bury the lead anymore. Michael Parks is haunting, convincing, terrifying, bone-chilling, and propels the viewer through the movie. He's so damn good that Mr. Smith followed the Academy rules of distributing a movie in order to insure that Parks was at least considered. Mr. Smith also believes some of the other actors have shots at nominations (Leo and Goodman) but I'm convinced Michael Parks is the only one who is truly breathtaking.
Don't get me wrong, it is a strong cast; and Goodman, in particular, does a fantastic job as lead ATF agent. Maybe it's just that Parks is so far beyond everyone else he's casting a shadow over the actor's otherwise good performances.

The strength of the cast is why I liked the film so much and why it earns one of my highest compliments: Red State is entirely re-watchable. This isn't a movie you can watch once and say, “I got it.” This is a movie you want to see a second time shortly after it ends because you're left saying, "Damn, did all that just happen?"

It doesn't fit the traditional mold for a horror movie, or any movie-mold for that matter. I missed the hey-day of horror during the seventies and eighties. All I ever got from the "horror" genre was copious amounts of gore and a couple of scenes with topless girls. So forgive my classification, but I don't think this is a horror movie. Does it have gore, you bet, but within the realms of the story. When someone gets shot in the face, their face comes off. Realism is all I got, and that was appreciated.

Perhaps, when Mr. Smith labeled this film a horror movie he was imagining what horror films used to be, not what they have devolved into. There are definite elements of the horror genre but at the end of the day I classify this as a drama.
Regardless of how it's labeled on Netflix, it is a short film by any measure. At 88 minutes, the movie is tight and the pacing is well done. I've heard complaints that the speech by Parks' Cooper mid-way through the film is too long, but for me it was simply captivating.

The run time is also the films' Achilles' heel. Mr. Smith was proud of his editing skills during this movie's production. (He edited the film simultaneously throughout the movie, meaning he went to set-directed, and then came home and edited). Granted, that is a feat that is rarely, if ever, accomplished on a film this size. In all honesty, I would have loved to have more background on all the characters, but especially some of the supporting characters whose deaths often felt sudden and their character arc short-changed.

Is it perfection? No. However, Red State is a whole lot of fun, vulgarity and violence with a helping of Michael Parks. I can't overstate this guy enough...he's amazing. The movie is a great watch and probably a great re-watch for most everyone out there.

TalkBack Grade: B+
MPAA Rating: R