By D.J. ARIZMENDI
“Red State” holds little back in revealing how independent filmmaker Kevin Smith feels about Hollywood, religion and humanism.
The movie begins by introducing three teenage boys who live in a typical no-name town. They go in search of the devil’s business via a sex website.
When they arrive at a love nest buried deep in backroads, an oddly not-as-advertised mature woman awaits them. With raging hormones, the desperate boys are not dissuaded.
Before any romance begins, the woman asks the teens to drink some beer. The boys black out before anyone gets naked.
One teen, Travis, awakes to find himself trapped inside a small cloth-covered metal cage probably meant for dogs. He is not sure where he is, but can hear sounds of worship.
It is soon revealed that Travis and his two buds have been kidnapped by a local extremist Baptist congregation called Five Points Church. Travis will be the center of attention for the upcoming sermon.
As the film progresses, government agencies become suspicious of acts going on at Five Points.
Oddly enough, the suspicious acts have to do nothing to do with stealing people. When the climax hits, nobody sees it coming.
Really good actors save this seemingly traditional scared-straight horror-thriller formula. The cast includes Melissa Leo, John Goodman and Michael Parks.
This is a huge achievement, not only for director Smith but for independent films in general. It proves that small titles can attract big names.
Even though Leo and Goodman are the best-known cast members, they are embarrassingly overshadowed by Parks’ performance. He plays the role of the Five Points pastor.
Parks does the impossible and makes the audience listen to his hate speech as if it is ultimate truth. He utters almost every word with fervor. It addition, he physically matches the look needed for a perfect portrayal.
To fully understand the themes shown in “Red State,” read the history of its creation.
Hollywood moguls wanted this movie to fail because they couldn’t buy it.
Movie bloggers wanted to say it sucked because they did not understand its creative process.
Smith fans did not want to see the movie because it was not part of his “skew-iverse.”
“Red State” redefines what it means to be a true independent filmmaker. Everyone who cares for the integrity of entertainment should see it.
Director: Kevin Smith
Starring: Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, John Goodman
Length: 88 minutes
Where it can be seen: Almost any service that provides video-on-demand.