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"Fear God? You better believe I fear God."
Abin Cooper

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 the local extreme fundamentalist Christian Five Points Trinity 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 sympathetic Cooper daughter Cheyenne.
  • Blackmail - Abin 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 Abin Cooper preaches about them.
  • All Men Are Perverts: This is what gets the main trio into trouble in the first place.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sure, every member of the Five Trinity's Church is arrested or killed, but the main trio are all dead as well as the only redeemable Cooper family member, Cheyenne.
  • 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.
  • Boom! Headshot!!: Abin Cooper manages to pull this on Agent Brooks. Doubles as an Eye Scream too!
  • Bullet Holes and Revelations - Happens between Sarah and her daughter Cheyenne. Sarah loses.
  • 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 the Abin Cooper, "Shut the fuck up!" as he rambles in his cell.
  • Dawson Casting: Travis, Jared, Billy Ray and Cheyenne are all teenagers, however, they're all played by people in their mid-twenties.
  • Deadpan Snarker - Kevin Pollak's ATF Agent Brooks.
  • 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 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?
  • Death by Cameo: Arguably Kevin Pollak's and Marc Blucas' characters. They're around for a few moments before brutally dispatched.
  • Decoy Protagonist- We barely find out anything about Billy Ray, Travis and Jarod except that they would do have sex even with unknown women. The real protagonist turns out to be Joseph Keenan or Abin Cooper.
  • Dumb Muscle: Billy Ray is a head taller than his friends and is the dimmest of the three.
  • Easter Egg: Five Points Trinity, hunh? More like Five Part Trilogy.
  • Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age: While everyone else in the Five Points Trinity Church uses some kind of modern assault rifle, Abin Cooper (who's clearly older than almost every other member) sticks with a nice bolt action hunting rifle.
  • The Fundamentalist: The congregation of the Five Points Trinity Church, played for horror.
  • Genre Shift: Good Lord, this movie has it in spades. It goes from a raunchy comedy, to a Hostel-status thriller, to a hostage/siege-type movie with a bit of action/shoot-em-up thrown in.
  • Give Me a Sign: Played straight, then subverted and lampshaded.
  • A Good Way to Die: Abin Cooper certainly believes dying fighting government enforcers (of a government willing to tolerate homosexuals) is one, and he has most of his family convinced of that too.
  • 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 .
  • 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 back-up, 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...
  • Moe Greene Special: Happens to Agent Brooks.
  • Moral Myopia: Abin 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:
    • Abin Cooper and his Five Points Church for real-life fundamentalist nutbar Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptists. Keenan even explains the difference (referring to the litigious Phelps clan as "suers, not doers").
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Agent Kennan describes subduing Abin Cooper with a headbutt, which we tragically do not get to see.
  • Only a Flesh Wound - Keenan (John Goodman) has some shrapnel skull fragmets tear into his thigh, but it doesn't give him more than the faintest limp.
  • Police Are Useless: The local sheriff's office is incompetent. The ATF is corrupt.
  • Police Brutality - The ATF decides to cover up the Sheriff's accidental shooting by killing everyone in the house.
  • Real Life Relative - Jennifer Schwalbach Smith turns in her usual appearance in her husband's film. Also, Michael Parks and James Parks: father and son in real life and in the film.
  • Religion of Evil: The Five Points Trinity Church.
  • Religious Horror - The Five Points church members are partly inspired by Fred Phelps and his flock, though they go him one better and lure "sinners" over the internet and kill them.
  • Ripped from the Headlines - Abin Cooper is sort of a mix of Fred Phelps and David Koresh; the climax explicitly recalls the Waco siege at the Branch Davidian compound.
  • Sinister Minister - Abin Cooper, who also has a Beard of Evil.
  • 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.
  • Villain Protagonist - Abin could be considered to be the protagonist.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Kevin Smith wrote the part of Abin Cooper with George Carlin in mind; unfortunately George suffered Actor Existence Failure before such could come to pass.
    • Also, Smith also wanted to the original ending to follow through with the Biblical prophecies. In the original ending, everyone dies and while they're dying, the ground shakes and splits open. Keenan manages to survive his injury just long enough to see a giant Angel with a sword fly away, followed by the Four Housemen to the Apocalypse to descend from the clouds.
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