Kevin Smith, USA, 2011, 96 min.
Red State is a conundrum. Going in, I thought I had the film pegged. A trio of teenagers, lured with the promise of sex, get captured by a crazed preacher and his cult of ultra-conservatives. A not-so-veiled reference to the Westboro Baptist Church. There, during a church ceremony, they are readied for a sacrifice.
It’s a standard horror setup with a religious cult gimmick. You can guess where the film would go from there, but Kevin Smith turns it on its head. Not once, but twice. It felt like I was watching three different movies.
That being said, I’m not sure exactly what Kevin Smith was going for. Yes, the first part has a clear message. Beyond that the first two sections are standard genre exercises.and uninspiring. The last section is intriguing and unconventional but ultimately unrewarding.
Actually, that is a good way to describe Red State. I admire Kevin Smith for trying something different but it just doesn’t work.