The Shack

Starring: Sam Worthington, Radha Mitchell, Octavia Spencer, Tim McGraw
Directed By: Stuart Hazeldine

Plot: A man’s (Worthington) youngest daughter is kidnapped and murdered on a camping trip, so he becomes disillusioned with God… until a mysterious letter is left in his mailbox. What follows next… is it real? Or all just a dream?

What Works: I think there are some things in this film that are interesting. There are some ideas and concepts that I appreciate. I disagree with a lot of this film on a fundamental level, but it did have some cool ideas. For example, when we see God’s children as different glowing colors based on their emotions, I thought that was an interesting choice. It’s also a cool visual. There’s a core story here about a father who lost his daughter that is told well, even if not acted well. And speaking of acting, I actually thought Octavia Spencer, and a few of the minor actors did a good job. The film also looks very pretty, so there’s that.

What Doesn’t Work: I disagree with this film on a fundamental level. The film sets up the idea that there are no bad people, by setting up the idea that the bad guy was bad because his father mistreated him, and his father before him. The concept that a person cannot just inherently be evil, or choose evil things, but that all people are evil because evil was given to them… that’s a really overly simplified lok. Also, the acting in this film is pretty bad. Sam Worthington doesn’t do a good American accent, he never has. His Australian accent keeps pulling through. He has zero chemistry with his wife, Radha Mitchell, who lacks the depth for this role. She’s not a well written chracte to begin with. Worthington is pretty average. I was more disappointed with Mitchell, and her poorly written character, McGraw, and several supporting characters. The kids in this film aren’t great either.

Final Word: A very preachy tale that flourishes only visually and conceptually. It’s like a eating a cake with a lot of icing, and some cool decorations on top. Sure, it looks fantastic, but there’s nothing really there of substance. It has tried too hard to be sugary sweet, and wrapped up in a nice contained bow. It’s the ilm equivalent of an insincere hug from a stranger. I appreciate the gesture, but it doesn’t make me feel better. I’ve seen better “Christian” titles. I’m a little surprised this one was such a breakthrough hit. I suppose it’s better than a Kirk Cameron film.

Final Grade: C-

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