Red State: A Mind-Chigger of a Movie
Dir. Kevin Smith (2011)
The ATF is called to a compound run by religious fundamentalists. Think Westboro Baptist Church with a bit more firepower.
Michael Parks is a fucking genius. If you haven't seen any of his movies, stop reading right now and watch some of them. We Are What We Are, Kill Bill, Tusk... pick one. Any time you come across a movie with him in it, you can practically count on an Oscar-worthy performance, none more powerful, shocking, or effective as Abin Cooper in Red State. I'm a huge Kevin Smith fan, and I've seen and own every single one of his films. I've been a fan of his since Clerks, Mallrats is one of my all-time favorite movies, I've seen Dogma literally 100 times, and I listen to Smodcast religiously. Red State is, quite possibly, the best of the bunch.
Three boys are DTF, and they find an app that allows them to connect to "horny singles in their area" that are of the same mindset. They travel out to the boonies to find an older lady who wants to service multiple men and instead are drugged and carried into the batshit crazy temple of the Five Points Church. In a direct parallel and indictment of the Westboro Baptist crazies, the church is a murderous cult who stockpiles guns like they're preparing a trip to Waco.
One thing leads to another, and the John Goodman-led ATF arrives at their doorsteps to try to take down the group. They're instructed to break into the compound and kill all involved, but things are never that simple. Through convincingly crazy speeches and copious bloodshed, we're led through a film that never completely leaves your mind: the "mind-chigger" title of this article is a direct quote from director Kevin Smith. This movie was groundbreaking on so many levels. One of the first ever crowd-sourced films, and also holding the record for the highest revenue per screen in history, Kevin Smith made this film with the assistance of thousands of donors around the country and led it on a tour involving an after-the-show Q&A. Brilliant marketing, ingenious casting, and stellar acting are the hallmarks of this scary as hell film.
And John Fucking Goodman.
Seriously, look at this cast: Oscar-winner Melissa Leo, Michael Parks, John Goodman, Anna Gunn, Kevin Pollak, and Matt Jones (Badger from Breaking Bad), all for a film funded entirely by fans of Mr. Smith? That's insane, and each and every one of them delivers. Especially Michael Parks, who again, holy shit, deserved an Oscar for this flick. A searing indictment on religious fundamentalism and the dangerous anti-gay rhetoric infecting a few modern churches, Red State hits hard and effectively. If you grew up in the church, as many of us did, there's a lot of Parks' monologue/sermon that rings true, as horrifying and hate-filled as it sounds. Smith knows exactly where to pull his punches and where to hit below the belt, while making a film that is haunting in its brutality and realism. One of my all-time favorites, and quite possibly his best film. I'm trying not to give too much away about what happens, because you really need to check this one out immediately if you haven't seen it yet. Bottom Line: Amazing movie, and some of the best acting I've ever seen. I love everything Kevin Smith has ever done, but if he delivers movies like Dogma and Red State every time he gets religious, he needs to stick to those types of films from here on out. Watch it, now. 5 out of 5 stars.