Written, Edited & Directed By: Kevin Smith
Cinematography by: David Klein
Cast: Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, Stephen Root, John Goodman, Nicholas Braun, Michael Angarano, Marc Blucas, Damian Young, Kevin Alejandro, Ralph Garman, Kevin Pollack, Anna Gunn, Matt L. Jones, Kerry Bishe, James Parks
Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.
Now i have been waiting to see this film and i am writing this review fresh from seeing the film. I really wanted to go to the premiere at Radio City Music Hall when Kevin Smith was touring with the film. (I usually go to his appearances in New York) When i couldn’t go i was very pissed off. Now i have had a chance to see the film. Not as magical as it would have been to see it with Smith in attendance.
First let it be known i am a unabashed Kevin Smith fan. I will admit that his more recent films have been disappointing and each new film feels like diminishing returns. I still held onto hope he would make a good film again sort of like Woody Allen. (Just like whom most fans would say his early work was the best) Prove himself and the talent i felt he had. I at least was winning to give each of his new projects a chance before passing decision. Either way i always felt he was a entertaining person. With this film like Allen does once in awhile he stages a comeback. He finally Lives up to the early promise people knew he had. This was the film we have been waiting for. (it also makes me wonder if he has been watching Lars von trier and Michael Haneke films. The commentary and Violence that the film makes seem normal though is shocking seems inspired by their films.)
First of all if there had not been so much press about this film you wouldn’t really be able to tell that this is a film made by Kevin Smith. Until the last ten minutes. Except maybe when it comes to characters delivering monologues. He has totally changed up his filmmaking style. I don’t know if he felt a need to prove naysayers wrong or if he wanted to prove to himself that he could make a film with gravitas out of his usual element. It could have been he just felt a need to tell a story, either way. i am happy he did. i find it interesting that he waited to his next to last film to show growth in his craft that people have been waiting for him to do ever since his third film give or take. It’s not quite a slam dunk, but it is impressive.
The film begins with a sinister dark feeling i thought the early scenes would bemore like a typical smith film then delve into more of a dark tale, but it has a sorrowful mood from the beginning which feels like a slasher film.
The film not only becomes a examination of oneof kevin smith’s interest religion taken to extremes. it has thrilling elements that makes it close to being a suspenseful horrror film only in reality. it certainly has the elements for being one. The film has no musical score. All the music is live in the scenes. It was filmed using the red Digital camera.
It has a beginning where we follow a few characters then opes the story up so that we move o from them to another element of the story but involving various characters. Like a small ensemble piece. I have to say i am impressed by Smith getting John Goodman, Stephen Root and recent oscar winner Melissa Leo. They are all impressive as always. Michael Parks is a great villian though there is not enough here to really take him seriously as Best Actor material (as was rumored)but his performance is pretty strong. Just one dimensional like a proper villian. The role was written with him in mind after Mr. Smith watched his performance in FROM DUSK TIL DAWN. He has also said that if Michael Parks had turned it down. He wouldn’t have made the film. It is another feather in his hat of memorable roles. Interesting Enough Samuel L. Jackson was considered for the John Goodman role. He would have been equally excellent, but Goodman is just so eye opening in the role (Especially due to the fact this is one of his first roles after losing a lot of weight) He is clearly on a role.
The film is constantly surprising. It is very Bleak and in it’s last act kind of whimpers out as it tries to set a message. The film is small scale which helps it become believable. It takes a more cynical look at the world. The film isn’t a complete success. Smith is still rough around the edges in some ways, But i have to hand it to him here he seems like he is trying and showing growth and depth as a filmmaker by finally showing a willingness to challenge himself and experiment. He’s not playing it safe as much as he usually does with what seems like little effort. (I always like how i defend him by sounding more like i am insulting him)
The film feels like a commentary and action film combined. Where unfortunately it also feels like something that might be a tell tale sign of what is to come still.
As this is Kevin Smith’s attempt to do a more serious minded film. He Still at times can’t help but to put in small jokes and pieces of humor.
A definite addition to the film library. Go out and see(k).