Monday, January 30, 2012


Kevin Smith is a filmmaker that's his vocation, but first and foremost he is a passionate movie goer. That is well established in his very first film CLERKS where you have it's two main characters talk about movies and make Star Wars references all day at work.

Comedies have been Kevin's bread and butter for 17 years and now he has something very different to say and share. After hearing about the infamous Westboro cult leader Fred Phelps during a conversation with a friend, Kevin thought to himself that this wacko would make an excellent horror movie villain. RED STATE was born from this idea.

RED STATE takes place somewhere in middle America and centers on a group of high school friends who are wanting to get laid. They respond to a “personal connection” on Craigslist but this invitation of sex has far more sinister plans when the boys are kidnapped by some “fundamentalist” cult followers. This is when the films true star emerges with an eerie but amazing performance by actor Micheal Parks playing Abin Cooper the leader of the Five Points Church. Abin and his followers are a little too Old Testament and down right crazy. Cooper and his followers believe that they are doing God's will (they most definitely are not) by killing off any and all immoral old testament law breaking individuals.

This is really the only true horror element in RED STATE while the rest of the film seems more like a genre mash-up. You've got a little horror, action/thriller, and some satire mixed together. A lot of viewers have mistaken this as Smith unable to find a tone for his film and therefore making it a complete mess. I disagree with this because in my opinion he pulls it off decently. While the shift from horror to a hostage/siege film is sudden and a bit jarring it fits with what is going on with the characters and does not seem one bit strange or distracting. In fact when the film all of a sudden becomes a siege film this transition is some of the best if not the best directing Kevin Smith has ever done.

I'd like to talk about Micheal Parks for a moment who most of you only know (including myself) as the very memorable Sheriff Earl McGraw from KILL BILL, FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, and GRINDHOUSE. He is one of Quentin Tarantino's favorite actors and I find it awesome that Kevin Smith had him in mind while writing the character of Abin Cooper. I am not familiar with Mr. Park's work outside of Sheriff Earl McGraw and Abin Cooper but it does have my interest. Alas another actor that I'm sure Hollywood considers a dinosaur, what a shame.

Giving one of the best performances of 2011 Micheal Parks gives a performance of a lifetime and completely immerses himself in the role of Abin Cooper who gives the devil himself a run for his money. Forget what is nominated or has already won this award season and just watch RED STATE for this reason alone! It is because of this reason that RED STATE was and still is one of my favorites of 2011!

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