It’s a plague of Christian trailers this month! Sanctimonious September! War Room set the pace, managing to edge out Compton at the box office this weekend, though totals were comparatively lack-luster. Low totals suit this genre right down to the ground, though, since budgets tend to be pretty low for faith-based films. As you’ll see in this week’s previews, several of these religious flicks are decidedly low rent. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but your best hope for something entertaining this week rests with M. Night Shyamalan. The end days are truly upon us!
Two grandchildren spend vacation with their nanna and pop-pop, only to discover that the two old coots are a touch more sinister than senile.
When to See It: In Theaters. Early press is good, and this project looks just weird enough to be something memorable. Lots of people saying the film does a deft job of keeping you guessing by cutting the creepiness with humor. Hopefully we’ll be laughing with the film, instead of at the film (looking at you, The Happening.)
90 Minutes in Heaven
An ordinary family man is crushed in a traffic accident and declared dead on the scene. He briefly visits the afterlife and finds joy and fulfillment…until a busy body pastor prays over his body and revives him back into a life of crippling injuries and intense suffering. Thanks a lot, reverend.
When to See It: Never. I enjoyed Hayden Christensen in Life as a House, despite that film being a touch on the corny/sentimental side. He’s all sorts of miscast here. His drawl is unbelievable, he looks about twenty years too young to be the father of 3 kids, and he shares zero chemistry with Kate Bosworth, who looks pained to even be in the trailer. Add in a hearty helping of hallelujah choruses, and it feels distinctly unwatchable.
A successful young business woman ends her longtime relationship over commitment issues (she doesn’t want marriage and a family, so good on her!) and rebounds with a charming young stud who happens to have control issues of his own. When the young man gets all R. Kelly about the relationship, she has to take drastic measures to break it off.
When to See It: Rent It. The trailer doesn’t look bad, it just fails to really do anything new with the premise. I’m glad we’re seeing an actual film featuring people of color AND a strong female lead that isn’t tied into a faith based approach (or Tyler Perry in a fat suit.) This film may strike a chord with viewers, but I think it’s too generic to be worth a ticket.
God and the Devil decide to have another wager, a la Job from the old testament. A devout family man is struck with a succession of hardships and has his faith tested, ultimately leading him to contemplate suicide…and then a crazy ass bank robbery happens and I don’t know what the hell is going on in this trailer any more.
When to See It: Netflix. Normally all of the faith-bating on display here would warrant a “hell no” from me. Sean Astin seems to be pulling a Kirk Cameron and making one dreadful bible thumping film after another. He needs to stop, because its getting so as I can’t even enjoy The Goonies anymore. Somebody also needs to sit Danny Glover down and explain that he is too old for this shit. That being said…this film is pure insanity. The production values are non-existent and the trailer features some of the most flaccid gun play I have ever seen. Vinnie Jones and Astin both seem to think they’re in a much manlier movie than is currently being filmed. Nobody seems on the same page. Are they riffing on the faith based genre? Are they genuinely trying to make a Christian action movie? I can’t tell. Schadenfreude makes me want to find out…but only a little.
A young team of scientists? engineers? vaguely research-ish types? manage to create a device that allows two people to experience each others’ thoughts. The government wants in on that action, and takes the group hostage, forcing them to help weaponize the project. The good guys have to use their superior understanding of the “telepathy” device in order to outwit the feds before the tech is used on the helpless public.
When to See It: Rental. The official plot synopsis is promising a much more cerebral and nuanced product than the trailer is delivering. From what I can see, the science is laughable and the movie is tacking hard towards the espionage/thriller genre instead of hard sci-fi. I can’t tell which movie we’re going to get in the final cut, which means play it safe and wait for it to come home before jumping on board.