“The Shack” wants to be everything to every pious one. But, the book tried to achieve the same. After viewing the film a few weeks ago, I sought out the original novel in effort to grasp the appeal. Some Christian literature allows outsiders to view how this could be considered comforting. Not this novel. “The Shack” exists as a meditation on grief, but it never feels concrete. All consequence is brushed aside like a Confederate’s concern on Owl Creek Bridge. What does mean to Mr. and Mrs. Average Joe Filmgoer?

Modern Christian literature has hit a new odd spot since the end of the 00s. The rise of Self-Help literature in the late 1990s until now has created a subset of consumers that want direction. Is it good direction? Not really. But, it’s lip service that preaches to a crowd that will accept any answer that tells them not to change. After all, they are victims in a society in which they still control the majority share.

Whether it’s a random letter from Papa or Kirk Cameron yelling at you about the meaning of Christmas, a random audience member has to think about intended audience. Many poke fun at Christian cinema, as it exists now. But, they weren’t ever in mind when these films were created. These missives are tools to reassure a Christian public that what they think is dying isn’t their fault. It’s the damn kids and their bathroom confusion. It’s Target’s fault. It’s Obama’s fault. It’s everyone’s fault but a supposed majority that wants to wear the dressings of the minority. Sorry guys. You haven’t been in the minority since you were being used to fed the lions in between bouts at the Colosseum.

The book realized this, so it dressed up God’s little helpers as people of Middle Eastern/Asian descent. If you can’t sell a message as a minority, then dress it up and create mouthpieces. But, why the mouthpieces? Well, it’s harder to take a traditional authority figure and have them tell an audience how to live their lives. Hell, people see Pepsi commercials as B-roll from “They Live”. Dressing up God/Papa’s helpers as minorities allows their metaphysical chats to feel earnest. If they don’t like familiar, then they must be mysterious.

Well, there’s no mystery. Every lesson, every Shack visit and every minute of this film is here to pound a point into your skull. Your life isn’t under your control, so submit to a vague authority. When the film finally hits a point of resolution, it’s only after an hour or so of making the lead character bend to God’s rule. Submission to authority is a big tenet of these kinds of movies and the 50 Shades trilogy.

Pedestrian kink defined by black and white standards is boring. However, this film is far more evil than Dakota Johnson traipsing through the longest Sandals vacation put to screen. God isn’t Christian Grey. Christian Grey is just a wealthy fop with mildly interesting bedroom habits. God shouldn’t ever be portrayed as an omnipresent figure toying with his devotees for an abstract sense of entertainment. The final payoff of The Shack makes the lead character’s even more sadistic. But, that’s “The Shack”.


  • 2 hrs and 12 mins
  • PG-13
  • Lionsgate


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