Friday, 9 March 2012

Red State.


Kevin Smith who describes himself as a ‘fat masturbating stoner’ is an American screenwriter, actor, film producer, director, and a lot of other clever things besides, that I have managed to avoid, that is until now. Apparently his best-known film is Clerks (1994) that he wrote, directed and appeared in. His latest film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011, is Red State (2011). It’s a rather unsettling independent action-horror movie about a religious cult who interprets the world of God in there own particular fashion.  Basically there against any ‘unnatural sex’, what on earth is deemed unnatural sex? Well it’s any form of sex that is not carried out for the direct procreation of children. The movie starts when three horny pubescent teenagers respond to an online invitation for group sex with an older woman named Sara. On the way to their hotly anticipated date they sideswipe a parked car in which a second male is performing oral sex on the local Sherriff. When the boys eventually arrive at Sara’s caravan they don’t get their promised night of bliss instead there given spiked beer and when unconscious are transported to the local Church of the above-mentioned cult who are just about to murder an abducted homosexual.  I think my short description sets the tone for the movie!!!!

To be fair to Mr Smith and his actors the film is a level above the normal B-movie exploitation flick. The film stars the legionary actor and singer Michael Parks best known for his work with Quentin Tarantino including both the Kill Bill movies and the Grindhouse project. Parks plays Pastor Abin Cooper of the Five Points Trinity Church a character that is allegedly based on the real life American Pastor Fred Phelps who is the head honcho of the Westboro Baptist Church whose brief is built around a core of anti-homosexual theology and runs a website called 'God Hates Fags'. Parks 15 minute sermon scene is certainly a great piece of character acting and could easily turn the viewer into a complete religious nutcase – so beware!!!!!! Academy Award winning Melissa Leo (21 Grams 2003, Frozen River 2008, The Fighter 2010) plays the Pastors daughter Sara.  

Beware of those that sermonise?

A very dark streak of humour runs throughout the film as you can imagine and there a great climax that involves Federal agents lead by John Goodman that’s alleged to be inspired by the 1993 Waco siege.  It works best taken as a satire on the American far right. It’s a film that never lets you get comfortable.

Melissa Leo see's the light.

Kevin Smith’s speech at the Sundance Festival was very interesting, he explained that his movie, cost around four million dollars to make and under normal circumstances would cost another twenty million dollars, that’s five times the amount the film cost, to distribute and market. So the movie would have to earn twenty four million dollars before it recouped its money.  It was because of this that Smith and his producer Jonathan Gordon decided to buy the rights of the film for twenty dollars and release the film themselves involving no major studio and only the private punters that invested in the film in the first place. A road show was set up to tour the movie from city to city before its release on DVD and VOD. Apparently their action coursed a lot of controversy provoking a backlash from the media! Who pays the piper?

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