6 / 10
- Acting was decent
- Moral of the story wasn't too preachy, as it carries a lot of themes that both Christians and non believers can follow, which is that we can't always allow bad things to hold us back in life.
- Visual effects look cheap
- Slowly paced.
- The script feels a tad weak considering that the majority of it is basically nothing more than people hanging out, and talking, in a secluded cabin in the woods about religion. If the movie could've been condensed to an hour, and presented as a made for TV film, then it might've been acceptable. But for what it is, it's fairly mediocre at best.
Judge not, that ye not be judged
Pro-religious films are a lot like Donald Trump's political policies these days. You're either going to love them, or you're going to hate them for whatever reason. As I said during some of my previous reviews of pro-religious movies, a lot of this will depend on your level of faith. If you're a devout Christian that claims to have no doubt about god's existence, then you'll probably come out of this film saying it's an underrated masterpiece. Whereas, an atheist might downright see it as religious propaganda and nonsense.
For me personally? I try not review these movies based on my own religious views and preferences, as my readers know I strive to be objective as possible during most of these reviews, even if that's not always the case.
"The Shack" is essentially a story about a man that goes up to the woods with his family. His daughter gets kidnapped by a child molester, and she's killed out in the woods. Needless to say, this causes the family severe grief, as the father takes it the hardest among everyone in his family. He not only resents himself for what happened, but he also wishes death and pain upon the man that hurt his little girl. Of course, he curses god's existence from that point forward. Pondering if god is so good, then why does he allow bad things to happen to good people? Why does he not intervene? And why does god ask us to forgive those that wrong us in our lives? Very good questions to ask if you're on the fence about religion itself, as the film tries it's best to answer these questions as delicately as it can.
Fast forward years later, the father grows distant from the rest of his family, in light of what happened to his daughter. However, he receives a letter from god to meet him at the old shack, where his daughter was killed ages ago. Naturally assuming it's a joke at first, as the letter was signed "papa", which is his wife's nickname for god. Therefore, he confronts his neighbor about it, who happens to be the only person outside of his family that knows it's his wife's nickname for god. However, his neighbor denies it, so instead of calling the cops, or ignoring it, the father takes the "Scooby Doo" route, and investigates it.
He goes up to the shack carrying a gun, as he hopes it's the child molester that raped and killed his daughter, so he can enact some vigilante justice on him. However, it's not. He meets god, Jesus and one of his other angels. From here, they try to answer all his questions about what happened that day, while showing him how being god is not as simple as many like to believe.
Needless to say, over half the film is nothing more than a theological debate between a man that lost his religion, due to a tragedy, and the almighty god himself. Sure, you see the father go fishing, and do other things at the shack, but it's just filler because most of the film is basically god, Jesus and the angel trying to make our protagonist see the light.
I won't spoil what happens, but I will say that it's a pro-Christian movie, so I'm sure readers can figure it out from there.
Is the film touching and thought provoking? In some ways, you could say that. While I can't say I'm anywhere near as religious as some people in my family, but I can see how a film like "The Shack" can be inspirational to some people, as it does show how a tragedy can bring people together. And how just because bad things happen, it doesn't mean we can't still move on with our lives. And even if you're an atheist, or an agnostic, then you can still agree that holding a grudge against someone for something isn't worth it in the end because all it does is eat at you inside. Not to mention the fact that just because you forgive someone it does not necessarily mean you become friends with them. No, it just means you let go of the past to move on, and I think that's a message that anyone could relate to; regardless of your position on religion.
Don't get me wrong, "The Shack" does have it's fair share of problems like how it tends to drag a lot longer than they should. The visual effects look fake, as you can tell most of this was shot in a sound stage, with some cheap blue screen effects thrown in. If anything, the visuals looked like something you'd see on a TV movie budget rather than something you'd see on the big screen.
However, this all nit picky stuff that I'm sure most audiences won't care about, but if you're a fan of pro-Christian films, then "The Shack" might be worth checking out. If you're not, then I'd probably avoid this one; unless you're just curious to see what all the fuss is about.
© 2017 Steven Daniels