Although half of this film is an action/suspense filled politically charged film, overall it is a horror movie. The film begins with a trio of young men being tricked by a religious fanatical cult in a scene that is terrifying and harrowing to witness. Michael Parks takes over this film as Reverend Abin Cooper, who preaches to a group of people that do not believe in reason or logic. Having to watch a friend of yours die because a bunch of people decided it was God’s will is a messed up moment that happens in the film. From that point on the situation escalates from there, as the cult kills a local cop and draws the ire of the ATF, led by Agent Joseph Keenan (John Goodman). These events result in the ATF and the cult fighting each other in a violent struggle that mirrors the violence that occurred at Ruby Ridge and Waco back in the 90s.
Despite being rather obvious with his political commentary Kevin Smith crafts another well made picture, one that in some ways is different from his other movies. This is the first horror movie he has made, and its a good one, right up with his best films and full of surprises. The ending is a bit of a letdown and not all that funny, yet the rest of the movie has some dark humor and the part where one of the boys that was kidnapped attempts to escape is tense and thrilling. Red State condemns both sides in this film, as the ATF ends up bumbling their way through the situation while the Five Points Trinity Church cult gets many of their members killed instead of surrendering in the first place and avoiding the bloodshed. Michael Parks gives a commanding performance and Goodman delivers something quieter and more insightful, especially near the end with his mediation upon the dark nature of humanity. Oh and the actual ending that Smith decided not to go with would have been far more interesting if even more outlandish than how the movie actually concluded. Huh.