Berserker – Berserker.
Kevin Smith breaks away from his comedic roots to direct and write this religious/political/bigot baiter that lurches from Hostel type madness into a siege of the damned. Starring Melissa Leo, Michael Parks, John Goodman, Michael Angarano, Kerry Bishe and Nicholas Braun, story finds Parks heading up a Christian cult that lures horny youngsters to their place of worship on the promise of sex with an older woman. Of course once the lads get there it’s not long before the truth of the lure is revealed and we are treated to hate spiel by sermon and some unpleasantness from the production code edition of the torture porn play book.
Red State is an infuriating movie in many ways, but it is never dull and it always remains challenging, even if some of Smith’s sermonising agendas lack cohesion entering the final third of the piece. In fact there are three tonal shifts that don’t make an altogether appetising whole, Smith straining to bridge the gap between satire and horror – cum – thriller. And sadly the climax to all the damaged threads is very anti-climatic. On the major plus side is a cast doing fine work, headed by Goodman, Leo and Parks, the latter getting to play lead dog for a change. It’s impressively shot by Dave Klein and Smith shows flickers of there being a good director in the mix.
Poor box office and bad reviews upon release inevitably got it tarnished as a bad film. In truth it’s a fascinating failure, but it has merits enough to warrant time spent with it. From Westboro to Waco, stopping briefly for a night in a Hostel, Red State is not easily forgotten once sampled. For better or worse. 6/10