It is quite obvious that Red State really isn’t a horror film nor is it a coherent film; it is quite frankly a mess. I don’t condemn the film because of its take on religion or extreme religion for that matter but the movie is more like a tirade than it is a rational thought out argument. Man, extreme religion is such an easy target and Smith doesn’t miss the mark, he overkills it. I mean it’s a movie about a religious group going insane and killing everyone they see. Now not only is this ridiculous because it paints extreme Christians as murders (which I don’t think is Smith’s intentions) but it also gives no reason to why they do what they do. Red State is like a research paper without any bibliography, you have no ground to stand on and you have no clout to rely on.
I think its pretty safe to say that Kevin Smith’s career has declined as of late. He came onto the seen with his hit indie film Clerks. He followed that film up with some solid comedies here and there but as of late his recent films seem to be lazily put together with little inspiration. I actually enjoy Kevin Smith’s humor and he can write some really good dialogue. He is like a poor man’s Tarantino and yes that is a compliment. So I was glad to see him do a so-called “Horror” film but like I said earlier, this is no horror film. Its never scary, crazed Christians shooting at anything that moves is about as scary as it is realistic. The movie involves an extreme Christian group that take part of the scripture a little too literally. I could explain more but I don’t want to ruin anything but I will say that the last half of the film is very similar to a Criminal Minds episode I saw a couple of weeks ago and no that is not a complement.
If there is one highlight for the film, it has to be the acting, which for the most part (excluding John Goodman and Kevin Pollack) is pretty good. Michael Parks is excellent as the head of our crazy Christian group and plays the character really well. Do I think his performance belongs in a film like this, no but a good performance all the same. Melissa Leo is solid as always and the three teenagers (Kyle Gallner, Nicholas Braun, and Michael Anaganro) are played well enough to pass as grungy, horny teenage sinners. I also don’t think the look and feel of the movie is bad at all either, as I liked the cinematography and the way that the movie is shot. So if there is one huge problem with the movie it comes from the script, which is downright awful.
There is no rhyme or reason in the script and like I said before this just seems like one big pointless rant that had some good thoughts that got lost somewhere on the page. I don’t understand why people would kill in the name of sin yet then they would kill in the name of preservation? Isn’t there a commandment that says thou shall not kill and if these people are so crazy about the bible how could they of missed that part. I mean I don’t know why the killing continues but they kill for no reason, which doesn’t make sense. I agree that these people that Smith target’s in his film are wrong and deserve some lecturing but they are still people who are driven by something. The supporters of the extreme church in the film don’t do much here except listen and kill. There is more to these people than that and by ignoring that you are almost as ignorant as them.
Religion is a tough thing to address in film and literature. We as human’s have are own perception on what’s up there and who is setting things in motion. It’s not hard to see what Kevin Smith believes and I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t really care what you believe in or if you want to express it on film but give me something tangible. Give me something that isn’t an extreme representation of what you are fighting against. This is what people do though; instead of understanding and recognizing where the problem is and why there is a problem they try to vilify their opponents. A wise man once told me to “fight the idea, not the person”. It’s not hard to give these extremists machine guns and make them into monsters, but it is also not hard to show why they are wrong. Kevin Smith is probably an atheist and if so he stands on the side that believes they are preaching reason and rationality to anyone that will listen. There is nothing rational or reasonable about this movie.