Kevin Smith’s latest film, Red State, is very different than anything he’s done before. Although he’s always taken jabs at conservative beliefs in his comedies, (and even made, “Dogma,” a whole film attacking organized religion), this is the first time that he has made an entire film attacking conservative beliefs with a serious tone throughout the film.
We are quickly introduced to the villains of this film, the members of the Five Points Church, who are out protesting the funeral of a local gay boy who was found murdered. It’s no mistake that this fictional church was inspired by the Westboro Baptist Church, who are infamously known for their, “God Hates Fags” protests.
In the movie, members of the congregation kidnap people who are homosexuals (or who they view as sexual deviants) to kill them and to “send the sinners straight to hell.” But, what at first seems like just another torture-porn movie, turns into a suspenseful film. Some of the would-be victims find a way to get free and a shoot-out ensues with government agents from the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency (ATF).
While this shoot-out is going on, many interesting things are happening. The lead ATF agent in charge, (played by John Goodman), is conflicted weather to kill everyone in the compound, or disobey a direct order and save some of the children and hostages that are still in the heavily-protected compound. Also, Cheyenne (Kerry Bishé), daughter of one couple’s in the compound, realizes that the ATF views the members of the congregation as terrorists and wants to find a way for the children to be spared. She comes up hard against her parents beliefs, which she has always accepted blindly, but in this desperate moment does some unexpected things.
Indeed, the whole film is filled with unexpected moments. (In fact, the person who you think would provide comedic relief in the movie is killed off almost immediately—just to show you that this is a serious film). Smith, even takes time to attack the Patriot Act and does not provide any kind of Hollywood ending. Perhaps, the best line in the movie, (and the director’s main idea), is delivered by Goodman’s character, during a monologue at the end of the film, he says, “People always do bad things when they believe that they are entitled, and they do even worse when they just believe.”
Red State got limited film screenings in theaters and is currently available for view on cable Video On Demand (Pay-Per-View) and will be available on DVD next month.