Thursday, August 18, 2011

Box Office Review - Red State

It seems like everyday a new issue arises around freedom of speech. Whether the government is threatening to shut down social networking sites, or blocking cell phone signals, freedom of speech is a right that is increasingly being threatened. Is this such a bad thing though? If the government is blocking messages of hate and the spreading of evil men's words, isn't this a good thing? With this though comes the question of who decides what is allowed and what isn't, and whether the government really has the best interest of the people they represent at heart. Kevin Smith addresses these issues in a somewhat loose and round about way in his new film Red State.

The beginning of the film starts off like any classic horror film. Right away we are introduced to preacher Abin Cooper and his Westboro Baptist Church type family/congregation via a conversation in a High School classroom. His family of crackpot fundamentalist play the monsters is this unconventional horror film who prey on the three teenage protagonists of the film. After heading out for a night of debauchery only to be trapped by Cooper's clan, the three kids are forced into a world of religious terror. This is the part of the film that most resembles a horror film. Midway through the movie it takes a bit of a shift and turns into a siege film. While both parts are satisfying, neither part is explored with much detail or depth.

This same lack of exploration also goes for the characters, but even though there is a serious lack of character development in Red State, all the actors do a lot with the characters. The main villain Abin Copper is played by the legendary Michael Parks, and he is absolutely electric on screen. The most interesting and exciting scene is of Abin Cooper preaching to his family for a good fifteen minutes. This scene features almost constant dialogue by Parks and he does not disappoint. All the supporting characters even ones with smallish parts are also fantastic.

Red State runs a very short eighty eight minutes, and while I can appreciate a film that gets right down to business, the film could have used an extra half hour in order to flesh out the story and allow more exploration into the characters. I also would have preferred it if the film stuck entirely on the exploitation side of film rather than straying towards being a message movie. The film tries to say that extreme belief in any form is a bad thing, though it never feels sincere. Also the tacked on anti-government message about the bending of laws and manipulation of the media in the post 9/11 world just made me role my eyes. At the films soul however is a fun and bombastic exploitation film and I have to give it credit for that. There are a lot of shocks throughout Red State, and Michael Park's performance is worth the price of admission (or price of VOD, DVD, or however Kevin Smith is getting the film out to an audience).

A Good Banana

No comments:

Post a Comment