Kevin Smith finished filming his mysterious horror film Red State last Wednesday. He finished editing it a few days later, according to his blog, and even screened the mostly finished film at the wrap party. Smith claims to have been editing the movie every day of filming: “I haven’t slept much.” To whet our appetites, Smith also released a teaser poster for the film, which features an eerie image and an eerier tagline: “Fear God.” Between Smith’s clear excitement about the project, the sure-to-be-controversial Christian-horror theme, and the dynamite cast (John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Kevin Pollak, and Anna Gunn, among others), I think it’s time to ask: Could this be Kevin Smith’s comeback film?
Smith’s Dogma was one of the most influential films I saw as a teenager. There was something weird and wonderful about how Dogma mashed together Smith’s scruffy predilections — comic books, drugs, poop jokes — with a sly, intelligent, expansive vision of the spiritual universe. (Dogma is the perfect gateway drug to The Seventh Seal.) Coming off Chasing Amy — a great indie romance which I’d argue is basically what every Mumblecore movie wants to be — Dogma looked like a decisive step out into bigger things. It was a movie with ideas. (Also, with Ben Affleck’s exploding head.)
Unfortunately, stasis followed. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back drowned in fan service. Jersey Girl, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and Cop Out weren’t just bad, they were colorless — none of the movies really feel very much like Kevin Smith. I kind of enjoyed Clerks II just for the “Star Wars vs. Lord of the Rings” scene, but the film’s very existence is a filmmaker’s white flag — “Quick, retreat to the first movie!”
I don’t want to sound like a crank. Smith’s clearly been having a lot of fun — he’s in serious competition with Stan Lee for most geek-tastic cameo artist (see Daredevil, Live Free or Die Hard, Southland Tales, and voice roles in everything from Superman/Doomsday to Duck Dodgers.) His Twitter stream makes for addictive reading, and there’s something kind of wonderful about a filmmaker who’s still willing to take on his critics. Smith’s always been an exciting personality. It’s just been a long, long time since that personality has come across vividly in his films. I’m hoping Red State is the Kevin Smith movie I’ve been waiting for since I walked out of Dogma with my teenaged mind completely blown.
PopWatchers, are you excited about Red State? What do you think a Kevin Smith horror movie will look like? Any Zack and Miri fans think I’m being too hard on some of his movies?