DIR/WRI: Kevin Smith • PRO: Jonathan Gordon • DOP: David Klein • ED: Kevin Smith • DES: Cabot McMullen • CAST: Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, John Goodman, Michael Angarano

Since the heyday of Clerks and Mallrats, director Kevin Smith has become somewhat of a cult figure in his own right, utilising social media to perfection to ensure that he is never off the radar of fans and critics alike. Whether or not you’re an avid fan of his movies, you will doubtless have heard of them, or the man himself, as he proves himself to be the master of media. But beneath the tweets about sex, getting stoned, or his wife’s breasts, lies an incredibly savvy business man who understands the mounting importance of the media, particularly social media. As such, despite the inevitable critical whining, it’s impossible to stifle a smile when you see his Twitter username (ThatKevinSmith) appearing on the poster for his latest cinematic offering Red State.

Red State is Smith’s foray into the ever-popular horror genre, with some heavy political undertones. The script is also written by Smith, and has been in development for some time, as hype has built to breaking point, making this one of the most eagerly anticipated horror movies of 2011. We follow a group of teens who follow an online invitation for sex, but encounter a group of religious fundamentalists who have a slightly more sinister agenda than what the teens had in mind.

Red State brings the horror genre back to its roots. It is a tense, and gruelling experience which is sure to shock, but for all the right reasons. Here we have a movie which portrays something truly horrific to us, but that something is already taking root in our society. Horror is a genre which plays on societal fears, and explodes them, taking what we often feel to be safe, and making it unsafe. Here, the fear is the internet, and the notion of religion taken to the extremes. These are common motifs in horror movies, but here for the first time, they are played out in a believable way, one which makes an impact on the audience long after the credits roll.

This is not the finest movie you’ll see all year, and often contains some slivers of questionable acting (Kyle Gallner that means you) as well as some dialogue that is over-done. It is however, one of the most unexpectedly affecting movies of the year. Smith is truly the new master of satire and the media, and his invitation to members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church to attend a screening verifies his God-like status. Smith may be a cult icon, but here he proves himself more than worthy of the title. Here the horror genre is utilised to perfection. Smith knew what he wanted to say, and the horror genre is the ideal way to get this message across.

Red State is undoubtedly the smartest movie Smith has ever made, and shows a newly developed understanding of the mechanics of filmmaking on every level. His tongue-in-cheek nod to Twitter on the movie’s poster shows an acknowledgement of the media’s propensity to violence, but also knowledge of people’s trust in social media, he knows that people will find him through his username, and that he will then hold them in the palm of his typing hand. Here is political satire at its subtle finest, and critics who claim that he is rotting his own directing brain with chemicals will ultimately find their way to Twitter, and may even enjoy the ride.

Ciara O’Brien

Rated 18 (see IFCO websitefor details)

Red State is released on 30th September 2011


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