Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Red State Experience

"Laundry detergant cocks." Girl sitting next to me talking to her friend

"That guy in front of me looks like he brushed his teeth with a fucking straight razor." Guy sitting next to me talking to his friend

Yep. I was at a screening for a Kevin Smith movie. The crowd was in form. Primed and ready to be delivered a slathering of relentless and ugly terror courtesy of Mr. ViewAskew himself.

Smith has dropped elements of action and thriller in for good measure. In a day and age where everything needs to be categorized, labeled and boxed in, it was rarified air not knowing what could happen next. If anything, that is a major strong point to the experience. Taking sharp left turns that have not been taken since the Firefly family terrorized a hotel full of musically inclined folk. Moreso in unexpected events than anything else. One review I read bashed it for not being conventional horror for the horror fanatic. How is this a bad thing? If anything, horror fans should be fed up with convention.

The audience in the theater was bloodthirsty. Some of the kills were met with gleeful adoration & applause. While other kills stunned them into silence. In particular the first few. The use of sound and editing makes them hurt even more.

It's not all just bullets and blood. There is some funny dialogue that is organically ingrained into the scenes to give them a punch. Although there were a couple of comedic bits I thought could be trimmed that felt out of place in the midst of the action. One thing Smith said in the Q & A was how Carlin said that people's minds are at their most fertile when they are laughing. In that regard, it allows ideas to come across easier. & the audience did laugh at parts of the movie. Only this time it didn't involve a donkey sho...ahem...interspecies erotica.

The sound mix is something Smith kept a close eye, or ear for that matter, on. Editing-wise the film feels tight for the majority with the exception of the few comedic bits I talked about earlier that were toward the end. Smith said he could lose 28 seconds after the tour was over & I don't think it would hurt so much as help the picture. The director also admitted the cut went quick thanks to editing on the Avid and shooting on the Red camera.

Another asset working to the advantage of this film: no score. Playing on one's emotions in these types of genre films has been done to death. Without a score it allows the audience to make up their own minds as to what they want to feel about a particular character. All the more appropriate that the moral center frenetically spins away throughout the film.

Michael Parks as Abin Cooper turns in a truly morally corrupt character. To quote a line from the script: "Fred Phelps may be a suer, Cooper is a doer". John Goodman was great (when isn't this legend great?) as a mid-level ATF agent.

The concept of Red State is what throws the switch to an emission of sparks and a hailstorm of hellfire. Smith emphasized in the Q & A that he grew up Roman Catholic. But he sure as hell wouldn't act like the people of the Five Points Church. More power to him. Something I wholeheartedly agree with. It disheartens me to see people pidgeonhole all Christians as ovezealous religous fanatics. Just as much as it makes my blood boil to see the Fred Phelps' of the world give religion a bad name. & that's about where I end that point before I turn this review into a soapbox tirade.

The last credit on the card left me with a big ole smile on my mug:
Almost the entire cast of Red State will return for HIT SOMEBODY when it goes over the boards in 2012.

Smith may be quitting from films after 2012, but rest assured, this is one he can be proud of.

I can't really give this film a rating right off the bat. My subconscious is still being gnawed at by some of the scenes in the film. Suffice it to say, it accomplished it's goal.

RED STATE hits theaters with a wide release on October 19.

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