Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Starring: Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, Nicholas Braun, Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, John Goodman, Kerry Bishé, Stephen Root, Jennifer Schwalbach, Ralph Garman
"God doesn't love you...unless you fear him." Three boys go into the woods looking for sex, but quickly find themselves the next would-be victims of an armed-to-the-teeth Westboro Baptist Church analogue.
My expectations for this film couldn't have been higher. I followed every step of production and distribution, and heard the writer/director extol the virtues of this film and its actors. When it was finally released to VOD platforms on September 1st, though, I approached it with cautious optimism. Could it really be everything it was made out to be? Fortunately, the answer's a resounding yes. The script's broken down into three distinct acts ("Sex," "Religion," and "Politics"), and is a far cry from what most probably consider standard Kevin Smith fare to be. The film also has a very polished and professional look to it, thanks in part to both the RED cameras used to shoot it and the expert cinematography of Dave Klein. What really pushes this film over the top, though, is its cast. The trio of Angarano, Gallner, and Braun, while certainly improved over past performances they've given (and more than adequate for these roles) pales in comparisoned to the acting veterans that Smith was able to wrangle. Goodman is an utter powerhouse as the head ATF agent, and Leo (fresh off her Oscar-winning performance in The Fighter) was wholly unrecognizeable as the Cooper family matriarch. It's ultimately Michael Parks that runs away with this movie, however; around the 20 minute mark, he gives his first big sermon, and it sent shivers down my spine. If I hadn't been hooked by then already, I certainly wasn't going anywhere for the 65 minutes that followed. The man deserves an Oscar, plain and simple. I paid for this once already, and I have no qualms seeing it with the special Q&A come the 25th, or buying the DVD when that drops on October 18th. A+