Red State of Mind
If you have ever talked film with me you probably have found out pretty quickly that one of my favorite directors, since I was in middle school, is Kevin Smith. I will also to be the first to admit that he is one of my favorite entertainment personalities in general. He is a celebrity, even though he claims that he isn't, that actually interacts more with his fan base, and candidly so, then he does with the rest of Hollywood. He has created a podcast network, called Smodcast that has given most of the characters/actors within his film universe a voice. And if you are a fan as well I suggest you check some of them out. I mean who doesn't like free entertainment.
One of the things that Smith has been most passionate about as long as I've been following his career has been getting his movie Red State made. A 180-degree turn from Smiths normal dick joke stoner flicks Red State was labeled a "horror" flick. The movie piqued my interest three years ago and I've been waiting patiently to see it made since then. Hurdle after hurdle and the movie just couldn't find legs to get made. At one point Smith threw around the idea of having his fans help finance the movie just to help it get made which I was totally for. For whatever reason that idea fell flat by way of bad advice and tax hurdles I believe. But four years later the movie finally found money and was made and I was giddy.
Going back to the candidness that is Smith he constantly tours the US in theatres and colleges doing Q and A's which are literally just people asking questions and him telling stories about his life. They are around the ballpark of about $50-$60 and he literally does it for about three hours. Unfortunately for me Kevin Smith apparently doesn't seem to know where North Carolina is on the map cause he never has a stop here. He then announced that he would be touring Red State on a Q and A tour. The emo Mike came out all depressed and figured there would be no way I'd get to here a Kevin Smith Q and A let alone the one previewing his movie I have been waiting three years to see. But almost as good as a Charlotte stop he made a date in Atlanta, Georgia. Close enough. You couldn't keep me away. So I went.
I told you all that to tell you this, Red State is NOT a horror flick. It is a mind fuck. It has been a full week since I saw the movie and I can tell you two things. One, I am still wrapping my head around what I saw. There are scenes in the movie that still creep me out just thinking about as I type. And two I am just now able to even try explaining my experience of seeing the movie. I have to say it was totally worth the extra cash to see it with other hardcore fans and the director chatting it up after wards. Smith even came down and hugged the last fan cause of how nervous he was to be asking a question. It was almost like a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening in the way that people were very vocal about what was going on. The entire crowd would cheer deaths and boo bad guys. It was surreal. But Smith will be the first one to tell you if you can't afford the extra cash wait till October to see the flick.
Now lets get on to the actual movie. I am going to do my best to not spoil any of the movie here. It is totally worth going in fresh and keeping an unbiased open mind. I really think that's why Smith only put out a very short teaser trailer with no real meat behind it. If you don't know the basic premise is a fundamentalist Christian church that is up to no good. The main character Abin Cooper (based loosely off of Fred Phelps of the lunatic Westboro Baptist Church), played by Michael Parks, is the leader of said church which comes into contact with a set of high school boys by way of some unfortunate turn of events. The boys (played by Michael Angarano, Nicholas Braun, and Kyle Garner) do a great job of making you feel like they are kids you could know or even be, which makes it feel a little too real.
The reason that I felt this movie was so unbelievably unsettling was Abin Coopers sermon. It is a pretty long scene but Parks does well to draw you in and you almost feel as if you are in the congregation but its only sane member. He is preaching absolute filth but at the same time you have to agree with some of what he is actually saying. At the one end you want to loathe him but then you can identify with parts of his sermon. Also a huge reason his sermon freaked me out personally is because of how long I have now lived in the South (originally from New Jersey). The South is a different breed of church and if you don't believe me come down and we can go to a Pentecostal service together. Now most of the country will see this movie and not believe a man of God could preach this way but I have heard that sermon he gave. It may not have been word for word or nearly as filthy but it was damn close with the same overall tone and that is a scary thought. At one point the friend that came with me almost had to leave the theatre because the scene was so intense.
The movie is not all fire and brimstone however. Kevin Smith is still indeed Kevin Smith and there are some pretty strong comedic parts and some killer one-liners. John Goodman is in the movie and with out a doubt steals the show. He is the Yin to Michael Parks' Yang. In fact he has my, and I'm sure everyone else's, favorite line in the entire movie. Good old Dan Conner to the rescue. I also appreciate Kyle Gallner's performance. Of the three boys he seemed to have to get to the darkest place and it comes off really sincere. Of all the characters in the movie I was emotionally invested in Kyles performance the most.
Overall I really enjoyed the movie and the experience a ton. I would do it again in a heartbeat and I probably would have spent more to do it. Chances are there will be a second leg of the tour this summer so if this sounds like something that you'd be into keep an eye out on the Coopers Dell website for tickets. But I am warning you if you are expecting to see a funny religious Kevin Smith movie this ain't it so just stay home and watch Dogma.