I don’t know if there is really any way to put this lightly so I’m just going to toss this out there. When I see on my schedule that there is a faith-based movie coming out my eyes kind of glaze over and I prepare myself to go into a sort of autopilot. I’ve escaped seeing Kirk Cameron films, 2015’s War Room and last year’s Miracles From Heaven and Risen but then I got the invite for The Shack and it didn’t conflict with anything else in my schedule. I had no choice but to see it but, with this one, I was willing to give it a chance. I really knew nothing about it, other than it was based on a best-selling book and seemed to be somewhat popular. Did the warning signs that Sam Worthington was the lead flash through my mind, I hear you asking? No, but I might not be as against him as most of you reading right now.
The film has him playing Mackenzie Phillips, which is, coincidentally, the name of Wilson Phillips member Chyna’s sister. A family man with a haunted childhood that makes him a little indifferent to his wife’s faith, Mack’s world is shattered when his youngest daughter is abducted and murdered. Months later and drowning in his grief, he has pushed away his family and friends to a quiet solitude when a mysterious letter shows up in his mailbox, despite any evidence of being delivered. Coaxing him to go back to the shack where his daughter was discovered, the note is signed by “Papa” a name that his wife and kids address as God, making Mack both skeptical but curious enough to make the journey.
First off, this movie is so horribly acted that every moment that it tries to relay a real feeling moment it clumsily trips over its own shoelaces in the delivery. As the father of a young daughter, I should be an easy mark for this story to manipulate but I felt nothing short of cold and uncaring, something I blame on the wooden work from Sam Worthington, who brings a low and hoarse whisper to his role. When we finally make it to the actual shack and meet the embodiment of God, played by Octavia Spencer, I pretty much felt checked out of the film and that’s about twenty minutes into an over two-hour movie. Ouch.
The religious theme of The Shack is really unbearable to any agnostic like myself and surely nails on a chalkboard to an atheist. Now, I’m not saying a faith-based movie like this should be tailored to any nonbelievers but if there was any broadening for a larger audience we might have had a better film. I should not be laughing when they introduce an incarnation of Jesus Christ and then predicting that he would, at one point, walk on water to prove something to the unbelieving Mack. Anybody with half a brain knows exactly where this film is going at any point during it and the director Stuart Hazeldine and the three screenwriters do nothing to breathe any life into a limp and pandering film. 0.5/5