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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: March 7: Red State


March 7: Red State

"Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda."

   Kevin Smith, after years of making comedies, decided to try something a little different. In Red State, Smith turns everything upside down and gives us a violent, saddistic tale about a religious family and the lengths they will go to keep each other safe and "cleanse" the souls of the local population. Smith has stated that it's almost a satire based on the real life of Westboro Baptist Church's pastor, Fred Phelps and his family. If you do not know, this is the nutcase family that pickets army funerals and condemns anyone associated with homosexuality. Sure, it's okay to have your own beliefs, but these guys are so f**ked up, and Kevin Smith makes a wonderfully morbid movie paralleling them. 
I hate this man with so much passion. 

   Red State's cast is quite the mix of actors and actresses. An FBI agent, played by John Goodman, is central to the film's plot and he plays it very well. He's unexpected in the role because it is just a tad bit badass, and one does not assume Mr. Goodman's the kind of guy to "bring it". The star of the film, however, is Michael Parks, who plays the patriach of the pseudo-Christian clan. His charisma is terrifying and you totally believe he's the leader of a messed up church. He has a couple of monologues that give you chills and the intensity with which he delivers them is insane. He's a combination of Hitler and some deranged leader of some cult. His performance is definitely overlooked and, if Red State's plot was a little thicker, he may have been more recognized. 

He also sings a creepy little psalm... and then lights someone on fire. 

   Overall, Red State is a nice change of pace for Kevin Smith and, although it does not deliver entirely when it comes to the story and pacing, the acting and dialogue make it worth a watch. With great performances all around and carnal, gritty camerawork, Red State proves to be more than just a festival of gore and violence. The subject matter may offend many but when you see such a brutal display of the use of Christianity, you can't help but root against the "Church". 

The Good:
Michael Parks and is incredible performance
The Bad:
an almost complete lack of a strong story
The Ugly:
knowing that the Westboro Baptist Church could just be a cache of weapons away from losing it and declaring "war"

Overall: 7.8/10

Best Quote:
Joseph Keenan: "People just do the strangest things when they believe they're entitled. But they do even stranger things when they just plain believe."

What to look for:
A terrifying, suspenseful monologue from Parks leading up to a disturbing act of violence

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