***Also Update: Check out the live blog of the “sale” of the film, and news regarding the distribution of the movie by Kevin Smith himself!***

It’s here! Kevin Smith has kept his latest project under tight wraps (that is, unless you listen to his podcast or follow him on twitter, in which case you know more about it than 90% of press outlets), and everyone has been chomping at the bit to see Smith’s first Sundance offering since Clerks, almost twenty years ago.  Well, we here at ScreenCrave managed to get coveted tickets to the premiere, and here is our knee jerk response to what we saw!  Check it out after the jump…

The Players:

  • Director: Kevin Smith
  • Writer: Kevin Smith
  • Cast: Melissa Leo, John Goodman, Michael Parks, Michael Angarano, Kevin Pollack, Kyle Gallner, Marc Blucas, Stephen Root, Kevin Alejandro, Anna Gunn, Kerry Bishe, Nicholas Braun
  • Cinematography By: David Klein

I’ve been here at Sundance, watching a number of good films but have been waiting for that one film that will absolutely blow me away, that reminds me why I love watching, making, be a part of film. Despite the fact that this was the hardest ticket to get and everyone was saying that the protests outside were all a promotional stunt…

…. and I would like to say it was “just ok” because lets face it, when you come to Sundance you’re looking for David, not Goliath; but despite the fact that Kevin Smith is one of the most well-known directors at the festival, with one of the most well-known casts, Red State IS the most independent film of the festival in every way. From the way it was made, to the film itself, and then to the way that it will be released, which even if it’s not 100% successful, will open doors for the future of indepdent film. This is the film that we came to see. And there’s more good news…

While I sit here in the theater listening to Smith speak about his plan of action for the film, I can say that so far, this is the best, strongest, fucking ballsiest and well made film at Sundance 2011.

Kevin Smith walked on stage before the film and said “this is not a comedy, it’s a REAL horror film” and he wasn’t joking. It’s a horror film set up, with heinous, gruseome events that eventually unfold in an extremely dramatic way– it’s a horror film in the old school style of the genre, not the Saw 3-D crap. Words like shocking, merciless, relentless, and angry come to mind immediately; but what I loved most about it, is it’s unforgiving stance. No one is safe, nothing unfolds the way you think it will and the hate that is in this film, that will make you cringe, is what makes this film truly horrific.

Who knew that Smith knew how to direct actors? Either that or he finally just cast actors that could direct themselves — either way it worked. John Goodman, has always been amazing and in this film he takes his talent to a new level. He comes in at about half-way through and gives the film new life and adds an entirely new level of drama. Melissa Leo–dare I say, she’s never been better, she will blow you mind, with a simple smile she will petrify you in the most magnificent way. Michael Parks gives one of the most sinister performances I’ve seen, he gives Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Bastards a run for his money… yeah I went there.

The film takes its time in a number of scenes. It doesn’t rush, but builds tension. Much like the opening scene in Inglourious Bastards with Christoph Waltz, the first church scene in this film moves slowly and takes about 15 minutes, but you’ll be on the edge of your seat the entire time. He just keeps building the tension until it finally explodes and then doesn’t give up until the end… and the once the credits role, it keeps going. Don’t plan on leaving the cinema when the film “ends,” this is a set of credits you don’t want to miss.

Despite the graphic violence and dramatic nature, this film had bigger laughs than any of the comedies here. It’s smarter, more relevant and pushes more boundaries the most of the films are the fest. At times it’s dead serious, but then it walks that magical line of horror and comedy and somehow manages to have you wincing in one moment and laughing in another.

This film was made for less than $4 million in about 4 months, shot in about 25 days and it’s phenomenal.

Now lets let the bidding begin… oh wait. He just bought it himself for $20…. SWEET!

Photo Gallery:

Film in theaters October 19th by Kevin Smith and Smodcast!

Trailer:

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And for all your asshole protesters — what what in the butt! Check out Smith’s sign….

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Video Reviews:

Christie Ko’s:

Mali Elfman’s: