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Red State - DVD Review

Red State

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

KEVIN Smith’s latest comes with a ringing endorsement from Quentin Tarantino and it’s easy to see why.

Red State takes a perverse delight in wrong footing viewers at several points, regularly displays a penchant for verbose exchanges and even features a Tarantino regular in one of its primary roles.

But taken on its own merits it’s also a pretty solid hybrid of horror, thriller and gung-ho action flick. And it’s pretty much unlike anything you’ve seen from the director before!

Red State begins as three randy teenagers (Michael Angarano, Nicholas Braun and Kyle Gallner) answer an online sex ad from an older woman (Melissa Leo) and head out for a night of no strings attached R-rated activity.

Once there, however, they find themselves drugged and taken captive by a right wing group of religious fundamentalists intent on making an example out of them, which is led by the Rev Abin Cooper (Tarantino regular Michael Parks).

But just as viewers may be expecting a battle for survival style horror thriller things take a further twist as Cooper’s flock find themselves besieged by trigger happy Feds led by John Goodman’s veteran Joseph Keenan.

The ensuing film is guaranteed to keep viewers on their toes as Smith’s intelligent screenplay revels in its ability to shock while showing little or no sentiment towards many of the characters.

Admittedly, this becomes a strength and a weakness as while you genuinely won’t know who will survive, it also deprives the film of any real emotional investment, while Smith’s script sometimes feels too self indulgent, particularly in the way that it allows Cooper too much time to preach (thereby undermining the early momentum of the story).

But once the Feds arrive and the bullets start to fly, the movie shifts gears and feels like a bit of a rollercoaster ride, leading to a denouement that’s damnation near inspired (whilst providing Goodman with some of his best big screen material for a while).

Hence, while Red State isn’t without problems it’s a mostly intelligent, frequently evolving shape-shifter of a film that displays genuine balls for messing with people’s perceptions while providing plenty of food for thought on religion, gun law and modern morality to boot.

In doing so, it also provides Smith with an R-rated f**k you to the critics who thought they had him pegged. You can see why Tarantino dug the results.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 87mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: January 23, 2012