Kevin Smith has found a terrifying topic for his new horror film. Dermot Mulroney, Kyle Gallner, Michael Angarano, Stephen Root and Melissa Leo are all in talks to join the political horror film Red State, which is based on the life of Westboro Baptist Church leader and all-around asshat Fred Phelps. Smith has had some problems securing funding for the film, which has been in and out of production for three years. (It’s not surprising, since he’s described the script as “so bleak it makes f***ing Dark Knight look like Strawberry Shortcake.”) After a planned start date this July fell through, Smith announced that, with the cast in place, he could begin filming this September.
Leading the cast is Quentin Tarantino veteran Michael Parks, as the Fred Phelps analogue. Smith has said that he intends to fill the cast with “recognizable unknowns”, and his cast so far seems suitable. The best known cast members are probably Melissa Leo, most recently seen being absolutely heartbreaking on Treme, and Stephen Root, who’s one of the ultimate “hey it’s that guy” actors (though I’ll always think of him as the stapler guy from Office Space). Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding) Kyle Gallner (Jennifer’s Body) and Michael Angarano (Almost Famous) also fit the bill.
The idea of a horror film about politics sounds so appealingly redundant that I’m surprised people haven’t done more of them. (Horror films with political metaphor, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen). In fact, the only recent one I can think of is Homecoming, where zombie soldiers return from Iraq to vote. The problem is that, usually, what’s horrifying to one political group isn’t to the other (“the public option is coming to murder our grandparents!” comes to mind), but I don’t think anyone outside of Phelps’ immediate family supports the Westboro Baptist Church. Smith will probably have to change the name of the film to avoid irritating half of his potential audience, but if there’s anyone the country can unite in hating, its the Phelpses. Well, them and Mel Gibson. Maybe he can get a cameo.