What happens when you take the foul-mouthed comedy indie film director of Clerks and let him lose on his own wildly excessive religion gone nuts material?
Red State is the result – a quasi horror blast that tells the unhappy tale of three horny US teens who are tempted to meet an older woman they have met online for sex.
Before you can say ‘meh – I’ve seen too many of these stupid raunchy road trips’ viewers are thrown head first into the very heart of darkness as the teens are drugged and prepared to be executed by a hyper-fundamental Christian religious sect.
What happens to Travis (Michael Angarano), Jarod (Kyle Gallner) and Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun, pictured right) is the stuff of torture-em-up films like Hostel – and then just when you think you have the film pegged the tables are turned again when the authorities led by Joe Keenan (John Goodman) arrive and a full scale gun siege kicks off.
Red State turns out to be a really though provoking ‘what if’ that riffs on the dangerously crazed far right end of the Christian religious spectrum. This sinister fundamentalist group called the Five Points Trinity Church are led by charismatic but deluded pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks). The groups vitriolic hatred of homosexuals and anyone sexually promiscuous – plus Evangelic Christians for being too soft!?
Cooper preaches a malicious fire and brimstone damnation philosophy so extreme that even the neo-Nazi organisations have distanced themselves from them.
Without wanting to give too much away, Smith manages to do a decent job with the inflammatory material and gives it a heavy duty twist once the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents try to storm the Church compound.
As a Christian myself I was fascinated by the moral stand off interplayed in the film and the depiction of the warped way in which Cooper and clan twist the Bible to suit their own hateable prejudices. I’d be gutted however if anyone watching dismissed Christianly purely on the strength of Red State.
For those who enjoy being challenged and have a high tolerance for violence and cussing the closing credits promise that “Almost this entire cast will return in HIT SOMEBODY coming over the boards in 2012.”
Red State is a gut wrenching morality minefield – worth checking as there is absolutely nothing like it there.