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Red State
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by Adrian Starland

"Another Example of “Religion” & “Politics” Not Mixing"
3 stars

It's got “God & Guns”... “Gays & Girls”... and good ol' American “Small Town Values”... (not to mention John Goodman as a gruff, overweight ATF agent) – what more could anybody possibly want?

The story of “Red State” revolves around a bombastic “anti-heathen” communal church whose beliefs & activities are so extreme that members of the political “Ultra-Right” and even “Nazi” groups publicly denounce it and they work overtime to distance themselves away from any sort of association with the church and its message.

Presented as a hyper-radical alternative version of Fred Phelps' [in]famous “Westboro Baptist Church” in Topeka (mentioned in the movie), the tiny flock of the fictitious “Five Points Trinitarian Church” is suspected of also having strong elements of David Koresh (not mentioned), not only in the fact that all of its “members” reside in a “Mount Carmel” type secluded & fortified compound, but they have also been on the Feds' radar screen for quite some time, under the suspicion of having been seeking and perhaps already owning & stockpiling “modified to fully-automatic” semi-automatic firearms. And much like the Phelps gang, “Abin Cooper,” the figurehead of “Five Points Church,” and his flock make a name for themselves by picketing the funerals of brutally killed known homosexuals.

But unbeknownst to all whom distrust and despise them, the church members just may be engaging in a few “extracurricular” activities which go above & beyond simply picketing outside of the funeral services of these murdered individuals, which if “speculated” about here may do the disservice of giving too much of the story away.

And while local law enforcement, in the form of the “Sheriff's Office” (which rests far from any other or more conveniently located law enforcement entity), may not entirely like the idea of having the “Five Pointers” under its jurisdiction, it also seems extremely hesitant to push against them too hard... as if the shrewd-as-a-snake Pastor may have some sort of a Damocles held over the Sheriff Department's head.

Eventually, after the members of the church start feeling themselves being pushed to the brink, and after the Sheriff grows weary of being pushed around by the Fire-&-Brimstone preacher, all the stops get pulled out, and a violent & engrossing “showdown” erupts... and it proves that there is nothing more dangerous than a religious ultra-radical who's more than willing to die for his or her wild-eyed beliefs, especially if it means that (s)he gets a chance to take out a few of the “Godless Heathen” with him/her in the process! So with the assistance of the ATF, and the lack of presence of any media reps, the situation turns into a bloody & brutal “winner takes all” rain of hot-leaded fury! The only major problem is that unbeknownst to both sides in this free-for-all is the presence of an “outsider” (whose particular inclusion as a plot device is so crucial to the story that to mention anything more beyond that would destroy much of the mystery, so I'll leave it at that) who may be able to make all the difference in the final outcome of this conflict – which results in a climatic scene which would've turned other directors into placating pussies had they been entrusted with the same burden of responsibility.

While I'm never a fan of movies which try to go out of their way to make “religious types” overly radical, off-kilter, wild-eyed & frenzied, etc., this representation still managed to play with those theatrical stereotypes and still come across with a certain amount of “reasonableness” for being such an outlandish and highly unlikely idea – we could almost be made to believe that such an insanely radical group could possibly indeed exist, given enough bizarre & uber-extreme “incentives” to condition and motivate them.

Despite the enjoyability factor of the story, “Red State” does suffer from the one thing which may make most people a little less than warmly receptive to this movie as a whole – it's “pace.” In many places, especially in the earlier phases of the movie, scenes drag out and trudge along, so that even at just under 90 minutes it could've just as well used a nice excising of 10 to 20 minutes to tighten the story up and have the tempo cranked up a couple of notches.

Overall, “Red State” might be a little too “emotional” of a movie for those who may already harbor a strong prejudice against “radical” and hardcore “fundamentalist” religious groups and some of their tactics; but approaching this movie with a “thinking outside of the box” mentality, and even more preferably with a “neutral” attitude, one may find it well worth watching at least once.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=21818&reviewer=427
originally posted: 09/04/11 06:45:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2011 series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/13 action movie fan great film sex seeking kids held by religious fanatics-teriffic shoot out group and atf a 5 stars
2/17/12 gc Worth seeing for Park's performance alone.. 4 stars
1/10/12 Flipsider The movie lives on Micheal Park's performance. But it has flaws. 4 stars
10/30/11 mr.mike I know it's a cop-out but this is one you have to judge for yourself. I give it 3.5 stars. 3 stars
10/23/11 matt If you think this polarizes the right, you really ought to consider what it being right is. 5 stars
10/15/11 Monday Morning A sucky, cliche-ridden movie that polarizes right & left without offering any solutions. 1 stars
9/29/11 matt Wow. The more I think about it the more brilliant this movie is. It's a commentary on Waco 4 stars
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  23-Sep-2011 (R)
  DVD: 18-Oct-2011


  DVD: 18-Oct-2011

Directed by
  Kevin Smith

Written by
  Kevin Smith

  Michael Parks
  Michael Angarano
  Kyle Gallner
  John Goodman
  Melissa Leo
  Kerry Bishé

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