Sunday, November 18, 2012

Red State (2011)

This was a tough rating for me, but I decided to go with a very favorable score here. Red State is genuinely shocking, emotional, and disturbing. The entire cast pulls together a great collective effort, because this film does feature some high quality acting. John Goodman, Melissa Leo, and Michael Parks delivered some excellent performances, and the acting from the rest of the cast was very solid. 

Although, Red State can feel like a jumbled mess most of the time. At first, we see a group of young men (Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, Nicholas Braun), who want to have a night of fun. Everything seems fine at first, but the wild night takes a turn for the worst, when the group of young teenagers are drugged and kidnapped. Sarah Cooper (Melissa Leo) helped spring the trap, and the teens are held hostage by a group of church members. The teens are forced to listen to a lengthy and hateful sermon targeted at homosexuals. Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) is the man delivering the sermon, and he is the leader of the church. The situation becomes more serious, when Cooper leads a brutal and viscous execution of a captured homosexual, who he wanted to make an example of. The teens are up next on the chopping block, but the sudden interruption of a deputy stops everything. The teens try to escape, and all hell breaks lose. An ATF agent (John Goodman) arrives on the scene, and he sets up a team of armed men outside the church. Eventually, a violent and lengthy shootout erupts between the group of armed men and the church members, and there were a lot of gruesome and shocking deaths during this chaotic showdown.

Red State can feel confusing sometimes. At times, it felt like I was watching a drama, but Red State feels like a suspense/thriller, when the violent and brutal shootout erupts. And Red State can feel like a horror flick, because this film does feature some terrifying moments, and there is a good amount of gore here. Is Red State supposed to be a suspense/thriller? Is this a horror film? Or is this a drama? I can understand some of the harsh criticisms, because Red State can feel like a convoluted mess most of the time, and this film‘s identity can be very unclear most of the time.

Still, I enjoyed Red State, because this film did get a rise out of me, and there were times, where I felt legit anger. I was hooked into this film from beginning to end, and Red State is full of surprises, because you never know what’s going to happen next. Red State will probably piss off a lot of people, but this film did take me on an emotional roller coaster, and the final moments of this film did feature plenty of shocking and speechless moments.

Kevin Smith deserves a lot of credit. He stepped outside of his comfort zone here (because we usually see a lot of comedies from Smith). Smith took a chance, and I do respect him for it. Also, I don’t know If I would call Red State a failed experiment. Smith decided to go with a touchy and controversial subject here, and some people will take this film as an insult. Everyone isn’t going to fall in love with this film, but Smith showed a lot of guts, and this was a bold choice.    

Final Rating: 8/10   

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