Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mini movie review: Red State

I would call myself a casual Kevin Smith fan.  I love Clerks and Dogma; I like Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Zack and Miri Make a Porno; I don't much care for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back or Clerks II, and didn't bother to see Jersey Girl.

Red State, the little horror/thriller that debuted at Sundance last year is a departure for Smith: a new genre for him and a movie that is not super-saturated with self-consciously clever dialogue.  Three teenagers, out looking to raise some hell, run afoul of an extremist fundamentalist Christian preacher and his cult/family.  The preacher is scary as hell: eloquent, charismatic and madder than a hatter.  We are told that a neo-nazi group gave a recent statement clarifying that they have no affiliation with this guy - when the neo-nazis are nervous, you know it's bad news.  The ATF gets involved and the situation quickly (the whole movie is only about 88 minutes long) disintegrates into a friggin' bloodbath, because the crazy religious folk have got themselves a whole bunch of machine guns.

The cast is way impressive:   John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Anna Gunn and Matt L. Jones ("Skylar" and "Badger" from Breaking Bad), Michael Angarano (Sky High), Kyle Gallner (Veronica Mars and Jennifer's Body), Stephen Root (News Radio and True Blood), Kevin Pollack,Kevin Alejandro ("Jesus" from True Blood), Mark Blucas ("Riley" from BtVS), Patrick Fischler (most recently from Grimm).  The preacher is awesomely played by Michael Parks, whom I didn't recognize but who has a fairly long works list on

I'd rank Red State up there in my "like" category.  Part of that is because the subject matter is just not pleasant enough for me to want to watch over and over again, like Clerks and Dogma.  But it's a tight, fast-moving, disturbing, bloody, well-acted little movie that surprised me - good job, Kevin.

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