Red State


Disappointingly inconsequential.

FILM: Set in Middle America, director Kevin Smith takes us on a tale of three teens who accept an online invitation for sex from an older woman who lives in a trailer.

As much as it might sound like more of the usual from the director of Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy and the Jay and Silent Bob series, it is anything but.

As it is stated on the cover: “Red State. An unlikely film from That Kevin Smith”, it is exactly that, unlikely.

In this thriller, Smith trades in his usual themes and dialogue of sci-fi movies, comic books, angst and sex for dialogue of politics, religion, governmental cover-ups and, well, sex.

The teenagers are drugged and kidnapped by the woman who is part of a religious cult known as the Five Points Trinity Church, lead by Pastor Albin Cooper (Michael Parks) who is well-known for terrorising the small town with hate-mongering anti-homosexual protests and bigotry.

The movie starts to show its true form when Jarod, a youngster played by Kyle Gallner, is tied up in a cage and witnesses a ceremonial murder of a homosexual man at the hands of the cult members.

Jarod’s life is spared by a series of events that bring the ATF (Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Agency, a branch of the US Federal government), who are led by agent Joseph Keenan (John Goodman) to the compound. A major fire fight between the heavily armed cultists and the agents ensues.

Goodman and Park’s powerful portrayal of their characters bring credibility and force to an otherwise inconsequential performances by most of the cast.

Gallner’s sublime performance in the cage scene, with the help of skilled camera work, adds the shivers to the thriller equation.

While this movie attempts to convey important issues (bigotry, hatred, government misleading citizens), it sadly seems to miss the mark and ends up rather disjointed. There is no natural development or flow to the plot and the story seems to end just as abruptly as it began.

This movie was self-promoted by Smith and was not shown in cinemas locally.

SPECIAL FEATURES: None. – Matthew Jordaan