Title?: Red State
First or second viewing?: First
Preconceptions: I used to like Clerks, because there wasn’t anything like it when it first came out, and I felt it spoke to my condition as a frustrated creative working a dead-end job. But the film has aged terribly in my view, and Kevin Smith’s arrogance as a public persona has far outgrown his talent as a writer/director. I kinda loathe the guy now, and am fully expecting to hate this movie.
Fuck you and your fucking Woody Allen credits.
Fred Phelps is already such a one-note villain in real life; how is Smith gonna make him more interesting for the movie?
The teacher just called the head of the evil church “nuckin’ futs.” A goddamn catch phrase from a David Spade movie. This is the best Kevin can do, apparently.
It’s amusing how closely Smith’s dialogue for the douchebag teens resembles Rob Zombie’s: the same artless, repetitive strings of “fucks,” “pussies” and “dicks.” Makes total sense that Smith has gone the modern day evil-hillbilly torture-porn sledgehammer route.
The going-off-to-get-laid douchebag protagonists, much like the girls in Human Centipede, might be completely undeserving of the fates that will doubtless befall them, but like the victims in Centipede, they’re vapid, one-dimensional, unlikable. I don’t think Smith is going for torture-porn nihilism, but it’s weird that he’d make these guys so thoroughly unpleasant. More and more, Red State makes me think of Centipede, Hostel, 1000 Corpses.
Now, as Drugged Douchebag #1 is carted out to the church service, my religious gag reflex is triggered as blatantly as it was by Bill Maher’s final sermon in Religulous. I already hate these guys, Kevin; you’re preaching to the choir here.
Fucking handheld mumblecore photography.
Smith seems to be trying to recreate Tarantino’s trademark cinematic tension by casting Michael Parks and having him give a 30-fucking-minute speech before the violence beaks out. 3 guesses as to whether or not it’s working for me. (hint: I did not hit the pause button while taking this note.) Parks does a game job, though.
“Y’all know that world wide web?” Jesus, seriously, Kevin?
It’s not that I disagree with the vitriol against fundamentalist lunatics, but Jesus Christ, try to make it interesting, would ya? Anybody could do it exactly like this. I wouldn’t give Smith (or Zombie for that matter) so much shit if they didn’t tout their own auteur theory so highly.
Here come the police. It’s now gonna move into Waco territory.
“Pete! Was that a gunshot, Pete? Pete, are you there?” Seriously, Kevin?
The closet-gay sheriff even reminds me a bit of Sheriff Wydell from Devil’s Rejects.
Et tu, John Goodman? Kevin talked you into this mess, too?
Kevin’s making a movie here; he could explore and exaggerate a lot more religious weirdness if he wanted. The evil preacher doesn’t have to just be an exact hybrid of Koresh and Phelps; he could kill a sinner for eating shellfish, or have 7 wives… make it fucking interesting, Kevin!
The sheriff accidentally shoots the kid who made it out. Because after all, WWRZD?
Kevin fucking Pollack?
Goodman’s character seems nervous about leading the siege on the church, and indeed, his SWAT team seems fairly incompetent right out of the gate.
Goodman’s character is a real protagonist: a character with responsibilities, conflicts, empathy, something to lose. It took this movie 45 fucking minutes to introduce its protagonist, and its central conflict; the douchebag kids we’ve hung out with up until now were just plot devices to get us to this point.
And now, at the 55-minute mark, we are asked to accept the teenage cultist daughter as a conflicted, empathetic character. Okay; things have actually gotten interesting now. And it only took Kevin an act-and-a-half to get around to it. And hey!–the one surviving douchebag teen is brought back into the conflict now that the stakes have been raised; he can either work with the daughter, or risk being mistaken for a cultist and shot by the SWATs.
The teenage daughter’s motivation is to protect the children. She tells them to barricade themselves in the attic. Of a building that’s about to be burned down.
Hell of a long shootout, this is.
The standoff is interrupted by the sounding of Gabriel’s trumpet, signalling the Apocalypse. Kevin, this had better be a trick pulled by the SWAT team. Okay, good.
But then Smith has to twist it yet again; it was just the next door neighbors testing their new PA system. The SWAT team’s victory was purely accidental… or was it thinly veiled divine intervention?
Goodman gets a lame speech at the end that sums everything up in a sentence or two, because Smith popping up as Silent Bob to do so would be inappropriate this time around.
I expected to hate every second of this thing, but it turns out there’s 25 minutes of a real movie in here.