Spooky Week: Red State

A horror movie about the Westboro Baptist Church? Yes please.

This film follows three boys who find themselves targeted by a clearly Westboro Baptist Church stand-in, the Five-Points Church, led by a charismatic and sadistic leader (Michael Parks).

This film, apart from its weird affinity for shaky cam and jump cut running shots, is really good. I personally like Kevin Smith, even if he makes some insanely weird movies, (Don’t ever forget Tusk my friends. Justin Long may still be a walrus somewhere) and this one is no exception. The idea of the film is really interesting and the plot twist halfway is fantastic. Then it completely derails into a final scene of resolution and exposition. I hated the ending so much. It is so…dumb. It’s so dumb. I might be biased because I thought the projection the film was heading in was going to be devastatingly good. It could have had a great moment for John Goodman’s agent character and offer a tough choice that would define his character. They don’t do that. I won’t spoil it, but what they do go for is so much dumber.

Despite its lack of focus at the end, the action and horror in the beginning is incredibly good and that’s because of one man, Michael Parks. He plays the cult leader, Abin Cooper, so incredibly well because his performance combines everything that makes those types of leaders compelling. He is charismatic, he has an incredible speaking voice, and he commands every second of his screen time. Even when he gets aggressively angry he is still a wonder to watch. His performance alone makes this movie worth the watch. It’s nothing short of incredible.

This movie serves as an interesting reflection on hate groups and the government, but its final message seems just a tad askew from the tone of the rest of the film. It’s just too jarring from the dark and impactful tone of the first chunk of the movie. If they followed through with the premise they set up it could have something truly original, gritty, and an interesting fictional take on a real life shitty hate group. They really lose it at the end, but I think this film is definitely still worth the watch for what it gets right. The teens are interesting, there are some decent twists that really hit hard, and has an amazing performance from Parks that makes the good chunk of the film enough to warrant a view from its incredibly stupid ending.

Amy’s Recommendation: 7/10
Where to watch: Starz


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