Smith Goes Extremist
Travis (Michael Angarano) and his friends Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun) and Jarod (Kyle Gallner) are typical teenage boys with sex on the brain. When Billy-Ray discovers online an anonymous 38 year old woman who is willing to have a foursome with the boys they decide to head out for a night of debauchery. Except that is not what they get when they find themselves taken hostage at the fundamentalist Five Points Trinity Church of the infamous Pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) who plans to kill them for their sexual perversions. But the church they are being held prisoner in is under siege by ATF agents led by Agent Joseph Keenan (John Goodman) who is under orders to eliminate the extremist faction.
Credit where it is due and director Kevin Smith having made his name with slacker comedies accounts for himself well with a switch to a different sort of genre. He manages to bring touches of the slacker comedy which he is known for but with an immediate darker style which seems almost to jar but is fascinating for being almost at odds with each other. It means when we have these horny teenage boys talking dirty whilst browsing a mobile app for sex it isn't as juvenile as you would expect because of that darker, more serious tone.
Then "Red State" takes a darker turn when after being drugged are three horny teenagers find themselves tied up in this extremist church lead by a lunatic. You begin to wonder how this is going to play out and slowly Smith reveals what is going to happen, letting us remain curious for a while before revealing the next part of the story all of which is done with some decent camera work and enough language which some will find offensive.
But here is the thing as whilst Smith does a good job of switching genres and surprising audiences by his effectiveness with darker material you have to ask is "Red State" any better or worse than any other thriller by another director and for me it is only on par. It means that whilst "Red State" is entertaining and features some good performances the movie itself doesn't blow you away. It is basically a good movie which will keep you interested for its 88 minutes but won't leave you with a desire or need to have to watch it again.
What this all boils down to is that well done to Kevin Smith for showing through "Red State" that he was more than just a director of slacker movies. But the end result is only a good movie with some nice camera work but not the great movie that fans of Kevin Smith might have you believe.