Kyle Gallner, Michael Angarano and Nicholas Braun in "Red State"
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Kevin Smith
The publicity swirling around Kevin Smith’s religious thriller is nothing short of astonishing. The Sundance alum’s latest creation even ignited a protest from members of the Westboro Baptist Church during his premiere screening. However, with all of the debates and controversy surrounding the production making headlines, there still remained the most important question of all … Has the gifted filmmaker returned to his career’s birthplace in solid form? The answer, without a single moment of doubt, is YES! Unlike anything the director has ever attempted before, the story revolves around three high school students (Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner & Nicholas Braun) who live in a small town where the ultra-conservative Five Points Trinity Church, led by the terrifying and unapologetic Pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks), utilize the First Amendment to protest the funerals of homosexuals. In a town where cruising around in a car is considered exciting, the three friends locate a woman on an online sex website in a nearby town willing to have sex with them at the same time. What appears to be a mischievous rendezvous turns into a violent kidnapping and the teenagers find themselves bound, gagged and in the heart of the radicals’ compound with no hope in sight. Smith, who is one of the most gifted writers of dialogue today, alters his comedic writing style for an incredibly shocking approach that proves his talent has matured along with his visual component as well. Never has the director been able to pull such extraordinary performances, which is proven with the petrifying religious fanatic displayed by Parks who will no doubt be receiving accolades in the coming year. It has been amazing to witness the progression of Smith’s career, and this cinematic achievement is certainly the next step into even greater projects.