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Review: Red State

I'm not the only one who's been looking forward to Kevin Smith's Red State for quite a while, wondering whether it was actually going to get released or not. And after months of waiting it's finally here and tells the story of three teenage boys lured into a trap by the extremist and unhinged, Five Points Church.  This eventually leads to a ferocious gun battle with the Church and law enforcement.

Here Kevin Smith has ditched the slacker comedy and turned his attention to the horror genre. And this is a horror story, that's scarily realistic, not about supernatural monsters but the monsters we live with in our everyday life. Drawing much influence from the despicable Westboro Baptist Church - the Five Points Church, is even more extreme and just as unlikeable. The film's low budget also works in it's advantage making the whole film feel even more real. However, it's not just the WBC that need to watch out, Smith also shows us what he thinks of the Government in the film's very effective ending.

Red State is well directed and Smith gives the film an a very stylish flair throughout. However, the film suffers from it's writing - it's generally unclear what's going on from the police departments side of the story and also feels rather muffled through Abin Cooper's (Michael Parks) sermons, not really conveying why they're doing this. Although regardless of this Michael Parks captivates the screen. He's an actor I've been a fan of for a while, so it's excellent to see him headline a film that will actually get seen. The character is absolutely vile, but Parks charm and wit still come through in the role. Melissa Leo also stars although she's fairly annoying and her character feels slightly unrealistic. John Goodman appears and brings some wry humour, but part of me was not convinced by him in the role - one scene in particular, when the shoot-out starts and his character calls his senior really brought this to me attention.

Red State provides a fair amount of shock imagery, in particular a man being cellophaned to giant cross and murdered during one of Cooper's rants. And the shoot-out scenes are done particularly well, making it entertaining, action-packed viewing. The film does have an incredibly strong message for bigots and on extreme religion and this can be summarised in the last minute of the film in quite a fun scene.

Overall, Red State it's fairly effective with strong direction from Kevin Smith and a stand out performance from Michael Parks. It's low budget style and subject of society's real monsters make it one of the better horror films of the year but at times it can suffer from poor writing and some disappointing performances.

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