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Writer/director Kevin Smith's first foray into horror. After the disappointment of his last big studio film Cop Out, Smith decided to finally shoot the script he had written years ago during the shooting of Zack and Miri Make a Porno for the smallest budget he's had since Chasing Amy. Stars a few familiar faces and features a few more heavy weight issues than Smith's previous work.The film starts with three teens attempting to procure sex from a woman who lives in the outskirts of their Southern town. Things don't result in quite that much sex, however, as the boys end up being kidnapped by Five Points Trinity Church, the local extremely fundamentalist Christian church, situated in nearby Cooper's Dell. From there, it's all bloodshed, artillery and some transitions between the characters it focuses on.
This work features examples of:
Affably Evil: Abin Cooper is a kindly patriarch and preacher when he's not murdering sodomites and other sinners. His grandfatherly personality makes him all the more sinister.
Anyone Can Die: All three of the initial protagonists, and Cooper's sympathetic daughter Cheyenne.
Blackmail: Cooper tells the closeted gay sheriff not to send any backup or he'll send certain unwholesome pictures to his wife. He ends up taking a third option by calling in the ATF.
All Gays Are Promiscuous: The Five Points Trinity Church seems to hold this belief with the way Cooper preaches about them.
Badass Preacher: Pastor Abin Cooper, also a Sinister Minister who executes 'sinners' and 'sodomites', is a trained domestic terrorist. He joins the rest of his church during their shoot-out with the ATF, firing an assault rifle at the agents to hold off the prolongued siege.
Bittersweet Ending: Sure, every member of the Five Points Trinity Church is arrested or killed, but the main trio are all dead as well as Cheyenne, the only redeemable Cooper family member.
Black And Black Morality: Sure, what the Five Points Trinity Church is doing is sure as hell wrong and immoral, but deciding to execute every last one of them, including the children, just to save face is a really screwed-up thing to do on the ATF's part.
Crazy-Prepared: The Five Points Trinity Church is this to an extent. After some people set off an IED in their yard, they build a wall around their church (AKA "The Great Wall of Bullshit"), set up security cameras on their property as well as a electric locking gate (although, it is waist high) and stock up on high-powered guns which they have modified to be automatic. Also, they don't allow anybody but family members in their church.
Creator Cameo: Pretty hard to catch on the first viewing, but Smith is the voice of the off-camera prisoner who tells Cooper "Shut the fuck up!" as he rambles in his cell.
Cruel Mercy: At the end of the film, Keenan's superiors point out that they don't have to kill Cooper to keep him quiet. Instead they'll lock him away in a federal prison forever under the pretext of terrorism, where there is a high chance he'll be raped by the homosexuals he despises so much.
Cult Colony: The Coopers' farmstead turned into this, and their aggressive bigotry drove all their neighbors out of the valley.
Foreshadowing: The class discussion is pretty much all foreshadowing, especially the ending snippet...
Teacher: And what is the Second Amendment?
Student: (in a very pleased tone) We get guns...
As well as when the main trio is talking about how one of the women on the website they're looking at is located in Cooper's Dell. Guess where the Five Points Trinity Church is located?
Decoy Protagonist: We barely find out anything about Billy Ray, Travis and Jarod except that they would have sex even with unknown women. The real protagonist turns out to be Joseph Keenan or Abin Cooper.
Developing Doomed Characters: Exactly 13 minutes, 12 seconds before the horror starts. Most of it is getting to the incident, and establishing the sheriff and Cooper.
Dumb Muscle: Billy Ray is a head taller than his friends and is the dimmest of the three.
Entitled Bastard: When Cheyenne begs Jared to help her get the children out, he refuses and points out the hypocrisy of demanding mercy from him when she and her family were happy enough to kill and torture innocent people due to their religious beliefs.
Evil vs. Evil: The Five Points Trinity Church is killing gays and promiscuous teens out of religious mania. Then the ATF shows up, decides they are all terrorists and decides to murder every single parishioner, including the children.
Expy: Subverted. Initially, it seems like the Five Points Church is an Expy for the Westboro Baptist Church, but close to the end of the movie, the actual WBC is mentioned as a way of emphasizing exactly how dangerous Five Points is.
Agent Keenan: [on the phone] "No, that's the Westboro Baptist Church. You know, 'God Hates Fags'? They're suers, not doers."
The Fundamentalist: The congregation of the Five Points Trinity Church, played for horror.
Genre Shift: This movie has it in spades. It goes from a raunchy comedy, to a Hostel-style thriller, to a hostage/siege-type movie with a bit of action/shoot-em-up thrown in.
Halfway Plot Switch: Goes with the Genre Shift, obviously. The first half of the movie is about Travis, Jared and Billy Ray trying to flee from the Coopers' compound. Then Travis gets shot by the Sheriff. The second half of the movie is about Agent Keenan's team and the Coopers firing at each other, with Jared and Cheyenne caught in the middle.
Honey Trap: The members of the Five Points Trinity church use this method (primarily via internet personals) to draw in "perverts" for them to purge.
Hope Spot: When Travis makes his daring escape, he manages to make it out and you really think he's going to get away... only for him to get shot by the sheriff who has joined the ATF who have surrounded the church.
Idiot Ball: When the deputy hears the shots fired from inside the church, he makes no effort to take cover while calling in backup, despite having plenty of time to do so.
Infant Immortality: Although Keenan's superiors wish to avert this, Cheyenne's actions (combined with a lot of dumb luck) manage to play it straight. As long as you don't count the main trio and Cheyenne dying...
Moral Myopia: Cooper spells right out that he believes that the Biblical prohibition "thou shalt not kill" applies only to other members of the faith. However, no one outside his extended family is "faithful" enough for his standards.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: The cult compound, violence and the actions of the ATF are similar to David Koresh and the Branch Dividian Compound tragedy from the early 90's.
Noodle Incident: Keenan and his subordinates talk about how last time the ATF had not as much luck during a similar incident and the FBI had to relieve them. They are, of course, talking about the Waco siege, even though it's not mentioned by name or situation.
Not What It Looks Like: A rather interesting example. Sarah walks in just as Jared grabs Cheyenne, which makes it appear that he's trying to wrestle the gun away from her. In reality, he's just trying to taunt her into killing him because he just doesn't care anymore.
Suicide by Cop: The Five Points Trinity Church seems pretty damned determined to pull this off once their cover as a "peaceful, but angry and Protestant church" is blown and most of them are pretty successful.
The Voiceless: Caleb never speaks. He's portrayed ironically by Ralph Garmin, a radio DJ.
Writer on Board: An interesting case. While it's certainly a straight example, Word of God is that Kevin Smith considers Red State's religious and sexual politics to have been misstep, as they caused viewers to put too much focus on the those aspects rather than taking the film on its own merits. His next attempt at horror, Tusk, has no political influences at all.