What a disappointment Red State is for those expecting a horror piece, due to its entirely inaccurate marketing. And what a disappointment for those expecting something good from the much-loved Kevin Smith.
When three teenage boys are enticed by an online honey trap, they find themselves tied up for all the wrong reasons, for the local group of Christian fundamentalists are on Lord’s mission to despatch of those engaging in the Devil’s business. Bar a throwaway subplot concerning a sheriff and his homosexual extramarital activities, this is your lot.
The film can be broken down into two, overly-long acts. The first, a sermon from Pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) once the sex-before-marriage sinners are captured, the second, a shoot-out led by deputy sheriff Joseph Keenan (John Goodman). The latter ends when the Rapture arrives, the film fading to an entire wrapping up in just a few minutes. To be fair, this last scene is amusing, the rapport snappy—this is Smith’s trademark, after all—but in this instance, it’s unnatural; a rushed clean-up.
Credits may be attributed to Parks, who is wonderfully creepy, while Melissa Leo as enticer is excellent, deftly portraying a vulnerable woman dependent on her father’s leadership, along with a hard-set determination, with ease. However, neither actor is stretched, largely due to a script far too basic for any kind of social commentary Smith may have been aiming for; one single line of dialogue referring to religion as equivalent to terrorism simply doesn’t cut it.
First published in movieScope 24
Red State opens on 30 September