Let me start by saying, I like . I know he gets a lot of hate and I sort of understand why, but I like him. That being said, I freely admit that his films aren’t for everyone. His humor is silly to the point of ridiculousness, excessively crude and as sexual in nature as pornography. When I read about his latest endeavor, Red State, a horror flick he both wrote and directed, I wasn’t sure what he’d give us. Horror films aren’t exactly his forte. But kids, let me tell you, this is a gem. Kevin Smith may have finally grown up. Not that I don’t love his earlier flicks (Clerks, Mallrats, Clerks II) and it’s not like they were all completely juvenile and absurd (Chasing Amy, Dogma) but this is well beyond the scope of anything we’ve seen from him thus far.
It begins with a couple of teenage boys who go online searching for chicks and find a local ad for a girl who’s willing to do “anything.” They schedule a secret tryst and head out to the outskirts of their tiny, ultra-conservative southern town, only to discover something much uglier and more sinister than the wild night they expected. I’m not going to divulge anything more for fear of ruining its deliciously creepy tone. You’ll see none of Smith’s usual suspects; in fact, had I not previously known this was a Kevin Smith film, I’d never have suspected it. He wrote a surprisingly good screenplay and employed real actors instead of those goofy kids he grew up with and, aside from a few segments that dragged just a bit, he had me on edge, craning my head to catch every detail and listening as though I were deciphering code for the better part of 88 minutes. The film is filled with nuance, something that’s been lost in American cinematography for a couple of decades now, and sorely missed. It reminded me of the strange, dark tales of the ’70s, films like Taxi Driver and Straw Dogs (the 1971 original, of course). Movies that surely weren’t made for the masses but are rich in depth and realism, and are disturbingly violent.
Michael Parks gives an excellent performance as the movie’s main villain and Kyle Gallner, Nicholas Braun, Michael Angarano and Melissa Leo stand out as a few of the teenagers who find themselves in difficult circumstances. The man who iced this succulent cake, though, was none other than John Goodman, whose performance made my hair stand on end. He never ceases to impress me. I’m so happy he’s taking care of himself and getting regular- and really good- work again, I could sing. I LOVE that man. LOVE him. He’s an actor of compelling severity, with range that few in his field can rightfully claim. When he’s on the screen, I am watching, listening. Eagerly. Period. He’s that good.
If you enjoy intense dramas, you should watch Red State. If you like suspenseful thrillers, watch Red State. If you’re a fan of the horror genre, watch Red State. If you like Kevin Smith movies, if you hate Kevin Smith movies, if you’ve never heard of Kevin Smith, watch Red State.
Then come back and thank me.