When three teens head out one night for a gang bang with an older woman they met online, they have no idea what they're heading into. And neither, really, do audiences when they sit down to watch Red State, the latest film from indie auteur Smith.
Expecting a sexual experience that they will never forget, instead our three horny teens – Travis, Jarod and Billy-Ray – find themselves in the clutches of a right-wing fundamentalist Christian group. Led by the charismatic pastor Abin Cooper (Parks), the members of the Five Points Trinity Church have a passionate hatred of homosexuals, and like to speed their exit from this world. But as Cooper preaches fire and brimstone, and the men of the congregation set about despatching the boys, the church compound is surrounded by ATF agents, led by Joe Keenan (Goodman). And so we have ourselves a showdown, with both sides armed to the teeth.
This is not the kind of film we've come to expect from Kevin Smith. Yes, it starts off as a bit of a sex comedy, but soon heads into much darker territory. Comparisons with events of Waco, Texas, will no doubt be made, and the Five Points Trinity Church is clearly based on those Westboro Baptist nutters. And forget the marketing – Red State is not a horror film. If anything, it's more of a satire on the state of the US today, and its post-9/11 move further to the right. There are a few big ideas at play here – from sex and religion through to extremism and gun laws – and none of them really gets the time it deserves. But for all that, it's a hugely interesting and thought-provoking film – easily Smith's most mature movie to date, although he still can't resist the cock gags.
EXTRAS ★★★ A making-of featurette; a conversation with star Michael Parks; deleted scenes; and a series of "Red State of the Union" audio podcasts.