Red State


Silent Bob speaks out.

Red State review

Right back to his 1999 film Dogma, Kevin Smith has had it in for organised religion.

So it’s no surprise that in Red State, his first foray into horror, the perpetrators of evil are not Satan and co, but a bunch of religious zealots: an extended family led by one Pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks, excellent), who terrorises his backwater town with rabid anti-gay pronouncements.

The film begins with a trio of highschool students (Michael Angarano, Nicholas Braun, Kyle Gallner) trying to set up a foursome online with an older woman (Melissa Leo) in her trailer.

Before they know it, they’ve been drugged, abducted and incarcerated at Cooper’s church, where one luckless sinner has already been mummified in cling-film and shot in the head. And it looks like they’re next…

It’s a provocative, promising set-up, but the second half doesn’t quite live up to it. Instead, with the arrival of an armed posse of government agents (led by John Goodman), the film unravels in a hail of bullet-fire that lasts almost as long as the lengthy sermon Cooper delivers to his flock. Flabby, overcooked, and indulgently edited, Smith struggles to muster tension.

Certainly, those that worship at the altar of Smith – at last able to see the film after months of waiting – will be refreshed to see him produce something very different from his usual fare (even if the students’ early crude chat is all too familiar).

As an action director, his skills are rudimentary – though the scene where Travis (Angarano) attempts to escape, with the camera harnessed to him, is highly effective.

In truth, perhaps because of the casting of Rodriguez/Tarantino regular Parks, Red State almost feels like a discarded trailer from their Grindhouse project.

An exploitation movie dressed up as a religious satire, it doesn’t quite work as either – though there’s one almighty twist, a Revelation you might say, that’s something of a saving grace.


A brave attempt from Smith to break away from dialogue-heavy comedy, Red State doesn’t lack for ideas. What it does lack is an ability to execute them sharply.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • MillerCrosses

      Sep 15th 2011, 21:13


      You'll have to put this up to four stars by the DVD release. Imagine this was from the seventies along along with some other low budget horror/thriller classics, you'd be praising the hell out of it.

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    • olsquareeyes

      Sep 16th 2011, 13:09

      I'm looking forward to this regardless.

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    • GeMallrat

      Sep 18th 2011, 22:27

      intrigued by this film - looking forward to it

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    • badger86

      Sep 18th 2011, 23:37

      Three stars is a reasonable rating, there is a great film buried somewhere within red state but unfourtunately kevin smith just doesnt have the directing chops to bring it to the surface. Dont get me wrong i love the guy, but by his own admission he is far from being a great director.

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    • GinaFann

      Sep 19th 2011, 6:27


      Being a big Kevin Smith fan I couldn't wait to see this movie. I tried to rent it a few weeks ago but it froze up 10 minutes into it. So I tried again tonight and it didn't freeze up, although I'm wishing it did. This could have been a really good story but it was just an hour and a half of religious speeches and shooting up people. Now I know why Kevin Smith said it was the quickest script he's ever written. I'm very disappointed. And now I'm p****d that I'm out $9.99 on top of it!

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    • Tartantino

      Sep 23rd 2011, 17:46

      Seen this film the other day and thought that it was actually pretty good. It's no masterpiece but I stayed interested throughout and Michael Park is excellent in it. Actually p****d my self laughing at some points when it wasn't meant to be funny, like old ladies with AK47's haha. Not his best film but not his worst, worth a viewing anyway.

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    • Tartantino

      Sep 23rd 2011, 17:47


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    • Tartantino

      Sep 23rd 2011, 17:49


      I meant 4, doh

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    • FBDNess

      Sep 25th 2011, 12:13


      come on total film your off your head, this is not a horror, its a black comedy you dont know is a black comedy till your at the end. my god satire is wasted these days. this film was spectacular

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    • BobbyTwoTimes

      Oct 7th 2011, 15:50


      Sh!t! Total Sh!t! Kevin Smith is finished!

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    • fuzzydunlop1

      Mar 22nd 2012, 17:44


      Best film Kevin Smith has made in a long time. Excellent performances from John Goodman and Michael Parks.

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    • matthewbrady

      Jul 3rd 2014, 22:14


      Red State unfolds in a small town dominated by a fundamentalist preacher, Abin Cooper. It tells the story of three high school boys who, on their way to an internet arranged meeting with a woman, end up crossing paths with Cooper. This movie is has some big actors in the film like John Goodman, Kyle Gallner and Anna Gunn. But this movie lacks on characters and this movie is not re-watchable at all and to be honest this movie is kind of forgettable.

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