I just watched Red State and was quite suprised by how good it was. I certainly count myself as a Kevin Smith fan, but when he departs from his familiar New Jersey-based ‘Viewaskew-universe’, the results tend to be mixed (I enjoyed Zac and Miri make a porno and Jersey Girl to some degree, and Cop Out was entirely forgetable).
When I heard he had made a horror about an extremist Christian cult, I assumed it would be an excuse for a typical Smith rant against a group similar (in ways) to those he has tangled with in the past (Dogma was not a popular film in some circles). Yet, despite its crazy subject matter and the actions of the Christian characters, somehow it doesn’t feel like Red State is judging them.
That’s not to say that the sort of Christian who might protest the funeral of a gay soldier might not be irrirated by this film.
It didn’t feel like a horror film to me, beyond the great opening 20 minutes where a group of unsuspecting, horny teenage boys fall into the extremist’s (it feels fairer to say ‘extremists’ rather than ‘Christians’!) Craigs List-honey trap. Once the focus shifts to John Goodman’s ATF agent, it starts to feel less like a horror and more like a satire or perhaps simply a chilling what-if scenario.
Smith turns in a measured script and demonstrates that he is capable of effectively directing a film that doesn’t conform to his typical genre leaves me hoping that he sticks around. He’s announced that his next film – hockey movie Hit somebody – will be his last.