Red State (2011)

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Creative idea for a horror-esque film

Doesn't push it far enough

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Red State

Studio:  The Harvey Boys

Genre(s): Horror/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  January 23, 201 (Sundance)/September 23, 2011 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R


All hail me!!!!

Cult leader Pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) believes he is speaking the word of God.  He and his church protest funerals and point out that homosexuality is the root of the world’s evil.  When a group of students answer a personal ad on a hook-up website, they find themselves trapped in Pastor Cooper’s web.  When Cooper attacks the local sheriff (Stephen Root), the sheriff calls in the ATF led by Special Agent Keenan (John Goodman).  Keenan finds himself in a standoff with Cooper and his men…and Cooper might have God on his side.

Written and directed by Kevin Smith, Red State is a horror thriller.  The movie’s release was controversial in that Smith planned to auction the rights to the film but bought the film himself leading to anger from distributers in attendance.  The film followed Smith’s Cop Out in 2010, and received mixed reviews while bombed at the box office.


I’m not into this…

I was kind of over Kevin Smith.  As a director, you could argue that he peaked with his first movie Clerks though I feel Chasing Amy was his best film.  Since then, Smith has become a major name in pop culture but stopped developing as a director.  Red State showed a different approach for Smith, but it didn’t necessarily work.

I like where Smith was going with Red State.  The movie works in a lot of ways and doesn’t show Smith’s immaturity and need to be loved by fanboys.  Instead, the movie does pretty much stick to a straight and narrow horror/thriller plotline.  The movie proposes a twist ending (Smith had said he actually intended to go through with the Revelations plotline), but it then ends more straightforward.  I have to say, I liked the coming of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse idea and wish it had stuck with it…and making Parks’ right would have been a real controversy.


John Goodman: Action Hero!!!

The cast is good.  Parks is a scene stealer as the reverend.  Goodman who shows up half way through the film is also strong as the ATF agent caught between the rock and a hard place.  I think the second half of the movie (though changing tone) could have been better explored (especially the ending).  I did like that in the film, no one was safe.

Visually, the movie seems more mature than Smith who often relies on visual gags and clever quips.  The shootouts seemed strong and I’m reminded that whether you like Smith’s writing style, he does have a rather strong visual background.

Red State is actually really close to being good but just barely misses the mark.  It is a shame because I’d like Smith to evolve and due to the failure of the movie and other movies where he has branched out from his genre style, I worry that he will quit trying to grow.  Smith followed Red State with another horror comedy in Tusk in 2014.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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