Red State

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(2011) ★★★★

Channel 4: PREMIERE Sunday 12 July, 12.10am

Answering an online group-sex ad, three Texas schoolboys enter the devil’s playground – a Christian fundamentalist compound run by crazy pastor Michael Parks. Who has already aroused the suspicion of ATF agents led by John Goodman. Parks’ pastor Abin Cooper is modeled after the homophobic Baptist minister Fred Phelps, who uses ‘free speech’ to preach hate crimes. “It’s up to the righteous,” says Parks, “to stop the scourge of this disease.” He’s talking about homosexuality, and he’s holding hostages. “Watch that gay saliva!” says one of his congregation (all related by blood or marriage). “If he gets it on you it could turn you.” Kevin Smith’s red flag thriller is a tense and bumpy affair, veering wildly from teen sex comedy to graphic grindhouse mayhem. “And what is the 2nd Amendment?” prompts a teacher in the opening scene. “We dig guns,” sniggers a schoolkid. This is combustible stuff, culminating in a bloody siege shoot-out and a final line that made me laugh out loud. As he proved many moons ago with Dogma, Smith is adept at skewering fanaticism in all its guises. He shames the devil and, in Patrick Fischler’s terrific turn as a federal review board member, he scoffs at the powers that be.

Certificate: 18

Duration: 85min