Red State is the latest from the mind of Kevin Smith, yet it’s neither associated with Smith’s View Askewniverse or even the comedy genre for that matter, rather it’s an experimental film… A mad experiment! Though why would Smith feel the need to separate himself from the genre that’s made him so beloved by many? Well as Smith explains it, Red State is his edgy/artsy film school flick. It’s his opportunity to let loose and mess with the editing and visuals, obscure the plot, and all that bold stuff. Sure Red State still has some laughs but for the most part it’s meant to unnerve viewers and judging from the audience’s reactions I think it did.
The premise revolves around three horny teachers looking for love in all the wrong places. After receiving an online invitation for sex by an older woman, the three head down to a shady neck of the woods for some hanky panky, but naturally they get much more then they bargained for. So the three end up being the hostages of the notorious Cooper family, a hate group of extreme Christian fundamentalists led by the maniacal Abin Cooper (Michael Parks). Though word spreads quickly about the fiasco and soon enough the Cooper’s are surrounded by the boys in blue led by Special Agent Joseph Keenan (John Goodman). What follows is 80 something minutes of apocalyptic rants and messy shootouts that results in some very unsettling yet satisfying entertainment.
Red State is unconventional in almost every way a film can be. The editing (by Smith himself) is purposefully choppy, the story structure shifts around and the pacing ranges from lightning quick to slow like molasses. If Smith’s intention was to bombard his viewers with a series of visceral images (and I’m pretty sure it was) he has for the most part succeeded, though it does occasionally lack consistency. Take the beginning for example it’s quick n’ punchy and gets you excited from the get go, but then about 15 minutes in it comes to a complete stop as we hear the first proclamation from the devious Abin Cooper. Now sure Michael Parks is great in this role, but this scene just keeps going and going. It’s from here on that the film is always switching around, like it never establishes a steady flow because Smith wants us to feel unnerved, but there’s a difference between being unnerved and being unattached. It’s hard to get sucked into a movie when it’s always shifting around.
Now I actually went into this movie with low expectations. The reviews had been pretty harsh and definitely worried me. What if I didn’t like it? I mean I was meeting Kevin Smith after the showing what if he asked me what I though of it? Thankfully it wasn’t half bad, I mean it wasn’t perfect (you heard me list off some if it’s shortcomings) but it was entertaining and off-the-wall and beautifully photographed with the RedOne camera. As Smith brought up after the showing, it’s not supposed to mean anything or send some kind of message, it was just an excuse to mess around with visuals and try to entertain and entertained I was. I’m just thankful I live in a blue state.