Monday, January 24, 2011

RED STATE news and review from SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2011!

Kevin Smith began his directing career at Sundance with his self financed comedy CLERKS and this past Sunday he returned in a cloud of controversy with the premiere of his unique horror film, RED STATE.   And to the shock of many Smith has decided to market this film in a rather unique and rebellious fashion by touring the film around the states in an attempt to recoup the four million dollar budget of the production.  He stated that it was his feeling that to spend twenty million to market a four million dollar film did not make sense and the idea of touring the movie from state to state like GONE WITH THE WIND did for years after it’s release seemed the most viable option.

Smith’s fans pay to see him rock a hilarious improv Q and A wherever he goes anyway.  Now you can see his film plus get the fun Smith-style fun after the film as well. 

Photo: Erinn Katherine Burke
But is it worth it?  Well, certainly if you are yearning for the normal Smith fare you will be disappointed.  This is a unique horror film with no Jay and Silent Bob appearances to be found anywhere.  But if you want a suspense thriller with shocking action and unexpected twists then this is worth a look.

*Spoiler Alert*

The film starts as three sex crazed teens drive just outside of their town to get some action from a cougar they have met on the internet.  Little do they know it is a trap set by the evil pastor Cooper to ensnare sinners and sacrifice them before his coven of wretched believers.  Michael Parks plays the pastor brilliantly as he creepily preaches to a church full of families who hang on his every word.  Small parts played by Ralph Garman and Bill Cleavelin add to the sinister feeling these scenes excel with. 

The film turns into a kind of twisted Texas Chainsaw Massacre as the teens attempt to escape.  And before you know it, the film suddenly shifts it’s focus to a dedicated ATF agent played by John Goodman whose called in to exterminate the holy force at the church with extreme prejudice.  This means killing all people inside the church…even the innocent hostages and the children of the evil followers. 

I found the intense conflict to be interesting to watch.  However, there are moments in this film where Goodman talks on and on in truly annoying expository dialogue.  Some of these moments occur on a cell phone during loud gun battles, which often led me to a lack of belief in the action on screen. 
But in the end, I found the film to be quite different with truly jolting moments throughout.   

Kevin Pollak and Stephen Root do a great job with supporting parts.   The great thing is…you feel like their parts are going to be epic but you can never get yourself attached to any character in this film because no matter how central they may seem to the story their shocking death may be just around the corner.  I give the film high marks for surprising the hell out of me on numerous occasions.  It is a trip into something new and not for the faint of heart.  If anything the film ends up being a statement of how disillusioned we all are about things, which is not what I expected.

*End Spoilers*

Sure, I have some gripes with the film.  Mainly story, pacing, and characters that don’t get an arc but as the credits rolled I had to respect the fresh approach to the horror genre and statement the film made about us all.

I applaud Kevin Smith’s decision to utilize his fan base to get this film seen.  Too often we feel we need to spend money to make money in the world of filmmaking.  And you need to do that with a big business flick.  This is not a big business release.  It is a small film that has a small audience and I think will do much better with Smith’s plan plus the eventual DVD release. 

More films to see….and still six more days of festival.  In a way…this is just the beginning.

JeffroGee out.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting title choice. If I did not read the review, I would think it's another Michael Moore documentary discussing more of his liberal views. After your review, I might actually see it now.