When you think of great horror films, one name you don’t think of is Kevin Smith. The man who brought us Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back does have his more caustic side, as seen in 1999’s Dogma, but Smith’s latest effort, Red State, takes everything to menacing heights of horror. Taking aim at the thinking that motivates the notorious Westboro Baptist Church’s protests and that of its pastor, Fred Phelps, Red State is Smith’s own protest. Funded independently and distributed by Smith himself in a 15-date tour, featuring post-screening Q&As with the director, it represents a nervy move for a major filmmaker and a white-hot subject to approach, especially in this fashion.
The film centers on a group of teens who are lured out into a rural area at night with a promise of sex and find themselves falling prey to a fundamentalist extremist group and its wildly incensed preacher (Michael Parks, pictured), all fanatics and all armed to the teeth. The film, which also stars John Goodman and Melissa Leo, was a liberating experience for the director. “There [was] no one asking: ‘When do Jay and Silent Bob step in?’” he recently told The Guardian. “With Red State, I just get to make a movie.”
Smith has indicated his wish to retire from filmmaking at some point in the not-altogether-distant future. If this is his sign-off, it’s a wicked parting shot. “I wanted to go out as strong as I came in, and to try to make art films again. Not just comedies, but all kinds of flicks.”
In an interesting marketing move, Red State will be available to watch On Demand three weeks before its theatrical release in the United States.
“Red State” is now showing on Video On Demand — before its theatrical release. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2011 Lionsgate Pictures