Following the endurance test for both filmmaker and audience that was the big-budget, Bruce Willis-starring Cop Out, Red State sees writer-director Kevin Smith return to smaller, more personal fare. Loosely divided into three sections (sex, religion and politics), the film first follows three horny, foul-mouthed teens seeking random, anonymous sex online.Chasing this dream however, they are taken hostage by the Five Points Trinity Church, a group of Christian fundamentalists under the leadership of Abin Cooper and bearing a strong resemblance to the notorious Phelps family’s Westboro Baptist Church. Meanwhile, authorities are closing in, suspecting the group of stockpiling illegal weapons.
Practically devoid of Smith’s usual humour, the film instead tries to seriously examine the arrogance of fundamentalism that sanctions acts seemingly contrary to faith, sometimes leading to Waco-style tragedies. In a cast including Melissa Leo and John Goodman, cult actor Michael Parks gives an outstanding and genuinely award-worthy performance as Cooper, the charismatic patriarch of both Church and family. (Notes by Kevin Coyne).