Red State (2011) – Dir: Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy, Clerks)

We begin to understand three somewhat interesting characters living in a backwater town in North America. They’re just three young hillbilly horny guys. The best friends find a website for people who just want to get laid. They find a local woman on that website and they make a plan to meet her.

These three guys define their world as their scheme to get laid. Nothing else matters. Unfortunately for them, other people have contradictory plans. Some of the violence is specific, shocking, disgusting and effective, though much of it is loud, thrumming and drags on for a bit too long. Most notably with the continuous machine gun shootings.

The film feels more like a political message than a story. The human drama and the careful plot setup are the strongest elements of this movie. The ATF agent and his conflicts add something to how interesting the story is. Getting us to care about the three boys is a smart decision, but even when we spread out to other characters there are a few surprises.

There isn’t really enough going on in this story for me to consider it an enjoyable experience. However, what does happen is carefully and cleverly drawn out. There is no suspense, except when the boys get in trouble and we become concerned for their safety.

There are some pretty despicable characters making monstrous decisions on both sides, but here this is not as effective (scary) as in a movie like the Alexandre Aja remake of The Hills Have Eyes (2006).

It feels like not enough time was spent on evolution of motive and interior stories, and yet the surface elements while somewhat effective due to some strong characters – especially in the first half of the film, were not gross, scary or humourous. None of the violence was innovative.

The drama seemed to be the most effective feature of this movie, so this is where most of the work could have been focused. I felt this was only half as strong as it could have been. The three boys were interesting characters. The innocent brainwashed children were a nice (yet cliché) touch. The temptress and her daughter the caretaker, were somewhat interesting characters, as was the false prophet. The sheriff and his deputy both had a half-decent build-up, but then nothing was done with them.

John Goodman as the ATF agent (Keenan) was a superb character, but he didn’t get to do very much. The work that was done on the three boys was fairly solid. The other interesting/major characters that I mentioned should have been developed and dramatised that much and it would have been a far better story.

Trying to follow the plot from event to event is difficult because there is no on-screen connection between the sheriff who considers suicide and the ATF agent getting called in to take over the “domestic terrorist” situation. It would have been far better as a film if the two storylines had been the main plot – the politics behind manipulation of government agencies to take down violent religious extremists juxtaposed with the internal drama (which was done for the three boys) but also developed for the other major characters.

2.5 stars

Published by Mikebprowriter

My sense of humour is absurdist, inwardly bleak, caustic and morose, self-referential, rebellious and defiant, even in some cases sadistic, but overall sincere and even in the tragedies, hopeful.

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