A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie asks viewers to consider extreme hatred and intolerance performed in the name of righteousness -- as well as intolerance practiced by so-called "good guys." The movie offers no solutions or suggestions for these problems, but it does assume empathy and understanding on the part of its audience.
Positive Role Models
Most of the characters are deeply flawed and not people you'd want teens emulating in any way. Only one character, a cop, shows empathy and humanity during a tense and impossible situation.
Violence & Scariness
Zealots capture, imprison, torture, and murder people whom they think are gay. Viewers see screaming victims, blood, and dead bodies. There are broken bones and exploding heads. The movie's climax is a brutal shootout in which several people are viciously shot and killed, many point blank. Children inside a church are shown to be in danger. A general attitude of hate and anger permeates the movie.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Little nudity, but very strong sexual situations: Three teen boys look at a sex "hook-up" site -- which is shown quickly and briefly on a smartphone -- and respond to an ad. They meet up with a middle-aged woman who has agreed to have a "foursome" with them (though the actual act doesn't happen). There's the suggestion of a man giving another man oral sex. Lots of strong sexual language and a crude drawing of female genitalia.
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Strong, constant language (a hallmark of Kevin Smith movies), including countless uses of "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "t-ts," "vagina," "d--k," "ass," "a--hole," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), "hell," "bitch," "anal," "sodomize," etc. Also derogatory slurs like "wetback" and "f----t."
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Products & Purchases
Coca-Cola is mentioned twice, but both times in a highly unappetizing way. (It's unlikely that Coke paid for or approved of anything here.)
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink something alcoholic -- unseen, in a paper bag -- while driving. Later they drink beer. A local sheriff pours and drinks several whiskeys, getting drunk in the process.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this extremely violent thriller is full of potentially controversial/offensive social commentary about extreme right-wing religious radicals, gay bashing, the effect of the Patriot Act, and Internet porn. Though the movie's dark mood isn't typical for writer/director Kevin Smith (who usually makes edgy comedies), the content is everything you'd expect from the man behind Clerks, Dogma, and Chasing Amy: extremely strong, constant language and sexual innuendo. This time Smith ups the ante by adding brutal violence, including torture, imprisonment, murder, blood, gore, and many, many dead bodies. There's also teen drinking and a scene of an adult drinking to drunkenness. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This gruesome, brutal movie is going to be a tough sell to fans of Smith's usual humorous fare. Writer/director Kevin Smith is known for his vulgar comedies about troubled slackers (Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, etc.), but for his 10th feature film, he strikes out in a radical new direction with a horrific thriller. Aside from RED STATE's rampant language and sex talk, it barely feels like a Smith movie -- unless you consider that religion in some form or another has crept into many of his films, most notably Dogma. He's clearly very angry at those he thinks justify hatred in the name of righteousness.
Even in his comedies, Smith has never been shy or held back on taboo topics; but here he turns his usual humor into a cynical rant, without a specific comment or a likeable hero. It's very effective and highly powerful, but the movie's main drawback is that it's so heavy and dark.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.