Red State (2011)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #144


Number of Views: One
Release Date: 30 September, 2011 (UK)
Country of Origin: United States

Sub-Genre: Exploitation Thriller
Running Time: 88 minutes
Budget: $4,000,000
Box Office: $1,104,682
Director: Kevin Smith

Producer: Jon Gordon
Screenplay: Kevin Smith
Special Effects: Charles Belardinelli
Cinematography: David Klein
Editing: Kevin Smith
Studio: The Harvey Boys
Distributor: SModcast Pictures (US Theatrical), Lionsgate (US Home Video)
Stars: Michael Angarano, Kerry Bishé, Ronnie Connell, Nicholas Braun, Kyle Gallner, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Michael Parks, Stephen Root, Kaylee DeFer, Joey Figueroa, Anna Gunn, John Lacy and Kevin Pollak as ASAC Brooks

Suggested Audio Candy

Michael Parks “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”


Everyone loves a trier. Kevin Smith is a man whose work I have long since held a hefty degree of admiration for. Since jostling his way onto the circuit with Indie behemoth Clerks, he has fairly consistently churned out the goods, providing numerous high points end even managing to follow up his black &white magnum opus, somewhat successfully I might add.


He has his knockers, Mallrats was mauled by critics who didn’t know what to make of being assaulted with stinky finger gags and a bald-as-a-coot Michael Rooker’s exposed blast doors. This always bamboozled Keeper somewhat, if it had been judged on its own merits or, even more critically its source material, then I’m convinced it would have been greeted with a far more positive reception. Indeed, it is the precise reason why some works cannot be accurately judged until years after their conception (unless you get his point straight off the bat of course). In my opinion it i awash in neon lights. By the way Jason Lee has never been better than as  gloriously passionate and foul-mouthed slacker buddy Brodie Bruce.


Chasing Amy holds an exclusive spot in my heart. One chief component was Joey Lauren Adams, a slightly gruffer Melanie Griffith who fitted the part of Amy like a silk mitten from Bloomingdale’s. She wasn’t expected to sprout furnishings on her chinny-chin or swear like a construction site worker. No shapeless Deftones hoodies or tattoos of ‘mom’. Just an ever so slightly hypnotic tone and a nonchalant beauty.


Smith tackled a topic easy to fluff with great class and insight, and to any Affleck bashers I would urge you to watch his performance here. Nobody introduces their child to Nicholas Cage by slapping on The Wicker Man. It’s Leaving Las Vegas all the way (tee-total), followed by Con Air and a six-pack.


The wonderful thing about Smith; he dances to his own bongo beat and allow his inner fan-boy to dictate hi next move. When he has buckled under the pressure, his films never gross outrageous fortunes, he has provided us with works like Jersey Girl and Cop Out. These ‘favor for a buddy flicks’ as I prefer to regard them have been nothing less than jovial fluff.


No travesties, contrary to many folks’ belief, Cop Out was a reasonable and occasionally uproarious spin on the buddy movie not the turkey neck critics would have you believe, despite being arguably his weakest film. Indeed, should you have spent countless hours perfecting your best impression of Joseph Cornelius Hallenbeck as a teen, then you will find much to chortle over with his Bruce Willis’ anti-boy scout.


Granted it was plagued by the discomfort of having to watch a young boy’s personal hero turn out to be a bit of a douche and the studio bent him over a stack of unsealed comics and shafted his manhood from him but there are still flashes of a man very much connected to the material.


I despised Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back on my primary introduction and now it has become one of my favored ‘background movies’. Dogma split audiences like a tumble-dried Jimmy Hat but this was largely due to the fact that it dealt with a thorny subject matter which many believed depended largely on your own religious belief set.  I say this is poppycock, it is plainly an intelligent enough piece of work to read to everyone individually. Anyone familiar with my numerous appraisals will attest to that being the one thing I strive to achieve every time the Crimson Quill is bled, so my hat is off to you Kevin.

Smithie’s List: Keeper’s Ten Favorite Hoochy-Koochies


I Chasing Amy
II Mallrats
III Clerks II
IV Dogma
V Clerks
VI Zack and Miri Make A Porno
VII Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back
VIII Red State    
IX (TIED) Jersey Girl
IX (TIED) Cop Out



Red State, whilst not his best work, is undoubtedly his pièce de résistance. A swollen bird-flick at the unscrupulous studio execs who gobble up your profit margin and spew out a nickel for your trouble. He attempted an endeavor which took a rather bloated pair of dangle-domes and one hell of a commitment, both financially and emotionally.


Y’all remember all the POS and relentless campaigning for Red State don’t you? No? Must’ve missed it then. In fact, it is more likely you had no inkling it even existed. Even if you heard its name bantered about in eavesdropped conversations, you’d likely be none the wiser as to its director. I was.


Not one red cent, not a packet of half-eaten Wrigley’s passed hands to the suits as he crusaded his picture through Cannes with a superstitiously brandished hockey stick. It took not only his enlarged cajones to take to the stage but potentially one of Mewes’ also as he threw himself to the wolves and proclaimed his intent. No marketing, no extensive campaigns, no studio meddling. Fuck right off from my monster you vultures.


His tackle was offered as a sacrificial bargaining tool as he flopped that shit out and wanked it all over convention. This time he was going to be doing it his way. If the ship goes down, he’s the bearded captain, not the spoiled pompous Witherspoon ordering for her own luxurious life raft, clutching a box of the finest cherry liqueurs, her chihuahua and a butler bell as she laughs maniacally. She may have stolen a little Keeper wood in Cruel Intentions but it’s been flaccid ever since. I’m with Kev on this one!


As for the spectacle of Red State itself, it offers two varying film experiences under one holy roof. To begin, shades of Hostel are very much present. Cum-tanked preppies follow their Johnson to a most bogus location in order to gain their kicks. On arrival they are greeted by a somewhat less than cordial fishwife who hardly prepares their peckers. Whilst not a total munter, she’s no Joey Lauren Adams, that’s for sure.


As their excitable cocks prepare to line up Porky’s-style awaiting first traipse around her beaverish condo, it all goes a tad bit angsty. The Kevin Smith we know and love is hurriedly boxed up and the spuds come out. The second act shifts faster than a nitrous-fused chipolata into a gear previously not utilized by Smith. He bares his bloody teeth and brings that sentimental stick straight up and between nuts 1 & 2 quite startlingly.

Red State - 2

Michael Parkes is introduced and we have our sturdy linchpin from which to weave the entire latter movie around. John Goodman is called in to defuse the heist in progress as all of God’s special little people show none of the warm welcomes synonymous to the clergy. Numbers are whittled with no regard for favorites, especially as the film plunders relentlessly to its big showdown.


I absolutely implore you Grueheads, one and all, to enter into a ninety minute tryst with Smith on this one. Red State is one of the reasons why I am uncomfortable with bringing things in with a rating. If you’ve read this then you will be aware that any 8/10 scores you see shall translate to sturdy tens for bolshy endeavor and dignified martyrdom. Every aspiring filmmaker greasing the gears should take note of Smith’s bold actions.


Whilst I, and I’m sure he, would insist that you apply perspective as you may need to feed the monkey before peeling your own ‘nana, its message is opaque and Smith deserves every whisker of reverence for his outstanding dedication to real industry. In surmisal this is far less of an Appraisal than love letter from a die-hard heterosexual fan-boy life-mate, Snoochie Boochies.


Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 8/10

Grue Rating: 3/5

For the Grue-Guzzlers: Warrants that extra mark for its raw violence. It becomes not entirely about what you see and more about what you witness. Lives are superfluous here, crudely snatched regardless of age or sex, the message is his only intention and in Parkes he has the real star player we requisite.

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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