Kevin Smith's next movie, Red State, is a horror movie, and I think that's cool. For one, anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes on my blog knows that the only thing I love more than my fiancee is horror movies. (Sorry, honey.) But also, despite my tastes in film growing ever-more erudite with each year, I'm a fan of Smith's and have been for a long-ass time. Even as I become more and more aware of the man's flaws as a filmmaker, his movies still make me laugh, and still tap into certain truths about a place/time/mindset that I wasn't too far removed from as a teenager. I saw Clerks when I was 14, and it was kind of a milestone for me. Heck, there's still a Clerks poster I bought a 10 years ago hanging above my fiancee's and my bed. (This is more a matter of the fact that I haven't bought any posters in a good decade. There's also a Titan A.E. poster still hanging up in our room.)
Recently, some of us were slagging on Smith a little bit on OutlawVern.com, mostly for what we perceived as a lack of ambition and growth on his part. Truth is, though, Red State is a sign of serious ambition on the man's part. It's way out of his comfort zone, and it sounds like he had to fight tooth-and-nail to get funding after all the major studios passed on it. I have my doubts as to whether or not Smith has the cinematic chops to pull off a horror movie (he failed pretty spectacularly when he tried to make an action movie), but that doesn't mean I'm any less excited for the film.
Thing is, 12-ish years of being a Smith fan means you become prepared for each new release to become a bizarre, Smith-induced media storm of hype, ass-kissing, backlash, controversy, back-tracking, finger-pointing, and so on and so on until it all turns into a witty anecdote one of those An Evening with Kevin Smith DVDs. Red State isn't even out yet, and Smith has already managed to stir up a minor frenzy over the film because his distribution plan, and because of negative comments he's made about critics and critics' screenings.
I hope it's an awesome movie, and that if it's an awesome movie that it's also a financially successful one. However, based on my history with Smith's films, here are some predictions about the release and reception of Red State:
- Early word on the film, from the fan screenings, will be overwhelmingly positive, which Smith will proudly announce at every opportunity. Despite his refusal to allow press screenings, Smith will gladly quote any professional film critics who do see his film early and give it a positive review.
- The Westboro Baptist Church, to Smith's dismay, will protest (in embarrassingly small numbers) at the early Red State screenings. In fact, Smith will be so dismayed by this that instead of ignoring them, he will go out of his way to address them as publicly as possible, much like with those who protested Dogma. Any publicity this generates will be completely incidental, I'm sure.
- Although Smith will do no press, he'll be very actively promoting his film on his website, Twitter, etc. He will have nothing but glowing things to say about the film, the cast, and the crew.
- The media will grow tired of covering the Westboro Baptist Church "controversy." Once this well runs dry, some other "controversy" surrounding the film or Smith's personal life will pop up around the time of the film's official release. Maybe a cast member will become infamous after impregnating one of the Obama daughters, or maybe a Taco Bell employee will refuse to sell Smith a Cheesy Gordita Crunch because it's no longer technically on the menu. Whatever the issue, Smith won't necessarily start the controversy, but he will sound off on it loudly and frequently.
- Although no critics' screenings are held, many major film critics will see and review Red State after its official release. The critical response will be mixed, with some believing that Smith has turned a new corner in his career, and others finding the film to be an awkward mismatch of director and material.
- Smith will cite the disconnect between Red State's rapturous reception from its early screenings and the more measured critical response as a clear example of film critics being out of touch with modern audiences. This despite the fact that all the enthusiastic early buzz was generated entirely by die-hard Kevin Smith fans who love his movies so much they were willing to pay $100 to see one, instead of waiting 6 months to pay normal prices. Smith still won't hesitate to quote the good reviews.
- Smith will also imply that the critics who wrote negative reviews were just upset about comments he made in the media and by the fact that no critics' screenings were held for Red State. Most film goers will not see any signs of such a bias in the negative reviews, but the die-hard Smith fans will glom on to the argument. They will use it as a blanket dismissal for all negative criticism when discussing the film online, instead of actually addressing other peoples' points.
- Smith's much touted distribution plan will not yield great results, and it will be his lowest grossing film since
- However, due to the low cost of the film and robust DVD sales, the film ultimately will turn a healthy profit. Smith points to this as a sign of success, and he's not wrong, but it doesn't end up revolutionizing the industry in any of the ways he initially claimed.
- Some time well after the film's release, Smith admits that his incessant praise for everything Red State was a little overblown. The film has it's flaws (although he's still fiercely proud of it), and there were a lot of production problems. For instance, maybe it turns out the younger cast members were a bunch of vain assholes who were difficult to work with. The hilarious trials and tribulations of Red State end up as an hour long monologue on A (S)E7ening With Kevin Smith. Even people who hate Kevin Smith movies agree that it's pretty funny.
- And for my final prediction: when I finally see Red State, I enjoy it and appreciate Smith's ambition, but think it lacks the needed atmosphere and tight directorial craft that make for a truly special horror film.
So that's my checklist, and I think if it's 75% or above in accuracy, I'll finally buy myself a new HD TV. Please feel free to make your Red State Predictions in the comments below, and come its official release, we'll see who was the most accurate.