Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Michael Parks, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Michael Angarano, Kerry Bishé, Stephen Root, Kevin Pollak
Written by: Kevin Smith
Directed by: Kevin Smith
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence/disturbing content, some sexual content including brief nudity, and pervasive language
Running Time: 88
Date: 01/23/2011
IMDB

Red State (2011)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Preacher Discomfort

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Writer/director Kevin Smith is known for his vulgar comedies about troubled slackers (Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, etc.), but for his tenth feature film, he strikes out in a radical, drastic new direction with a horrific thriller. Aside from the rampant language and sex talk, it barely feels like a Smith movie, unless we consider that religion in some form or another has crept into many of his films, most notably Dogma . He's clearly very angry about fundamentalist religions that spew hatred in the name of righteousness.

Somewhere in Middle America, three teens find an online ad for sex with a middle-aged woman (Melissa Leo). They drive out in the middle of nowhere to meet the woman, who apparently wants to bed all three of them at the same time. Unfortunately, she drugs them and they become the prisoners of Abin Cooper's 5 Points Trinity Church. Cooper (Michael Parks) and his followers firmly believe that homosexuals are "Satan's instrument on earth," which gives them license to torment and kill anyone they suspect of being gay. Before long the police arrive, commanded by Joseph Keenan (John Goodman), leading to a bloody shootout. Will the good guys survive, or are there no good guys?

Even in his comedies, Smith has never been shy or held back on taboo topics, and here he turns his usual humor into a cynical rant, without a specific comment, nor a likeable hero. It's very effective and highly powerful, but its main drawback is that it's so darn heavy and black (although it is a merciful 88 minutes). This gruesome, brutal movie is going to be a tough sell to people who enjoyed the likes of Cop Out.

Lionsgate released a DVD jam-packed with extras. There's a 20-mintue making-of featurette, a whole bunch of Kevin Smith's "smodcasts," totaling several hours, 18 minutes of deleted scenes (including Abin Cooper's full-length sermon), Kevin Smith's Sundance speech, a conversation with Michael Parks, posters, and trailers.

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