THE STORY – The Shack takes us on a father’s uplifting spiritual journey. After suffering a family tragedy, Mack Phillips spirals into a deep depression causing him to question his innermost beliefs. Facing a crisis of faith, he receives a mysterious letter urging him to an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Despite his doubts, Mack journeys to the shack and encounters an enigmatic trio of strangers led by a woman named Papa. Through this meeting, Mack finds important truths that will transform his understanding of his tragedy and change his life forever.
THE CAST – Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Aviv Alush, Radha Mitchell, Alice Braga & Tim McGraw
THE TEAM – Stuart Hazeldine (Director) & John Fusco (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 132 Minutes
By Ben S.
Walking into “The Shack”, I was really not excited. I have made it very clear before on social media that I’m not very religious and I really do not enjoy movies that shove the Christian religion (Or any religion for that matter) down your throat. I feel that they basically say that you are a bad person if you have different beliefs. They all follow the same beat and are all so preachy. This is why I am extremely surprised to announce that “The Shack” actually wasn’t that terrible.
A seemingly happy family of Christian faith decides to spend the weekend by the lake as the last summer trip. After the father, Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington), has to leave his youngest daughter unattended to help with a boating accident, she has disappeared and seemingly can not be found. Later that day, her dead body is found in a shack. The death of their youngest has mostly torn the family apart. They don’t talk nor spend time with each other like they once did. Mack gets a letter in the mail requesting him to return to the shack for the weekend, but once he gets there it’s not the killer that he ends up coming face-to-face with.
I am a very firm believer of “credit where credit is due”, so I can very much appreciate “The Shack” for its attempt to not glorify religion as much as releases such as “Heaven is For Real,” “Gods Not Dead,” etc. I’m not saying its completely void of being a little too preachy (Which it really can get at times), but the main villain isn’t a Christian and it doesn’t insult any other religions. At its very core, it’s a movie about a man searching for redemption through the only thing that could help him and I can very much respect that. The movie tells us that forgiveness is a very hard thing and although it can be hypocritical on how it executes that statement, it still goes by at a smooth pace. I don’t know what it is with religious movies and solid pacing but the trend continues here. There was just so much being thrown at you and there’s never a dull moment that I was kind of enjoying myself here. Although this is the kind of stuff that happens when you decide to let 3 writers work on one movie, (John Fusco is the sole writer here) you get so many different ideas and scenes that feel more like sketches than a stitched-together movie because of how fast the tonal changes are.
Now, the bad… First off, “The Shack” doesn’t have characters. It has predictable pieces of cardboard that only feel emotion when it’s convenient for the script. Aside from Sam Worthington’s character, we get no development for any of them. It just shows them as a happy family for a few scenes and they think that is enough. Just because one character has a good chunk of screentime doesn’t mean you should just forget about all the other ones. I think it’s better off that the characters were left bone dry (Especially the kids) because these actors couldn’t portray well-developed characters. They are all mostly “no-names” with no real credits to their names aside from straight to VOD and B-side movies and thank god for that.
I really have no strong feelings toward “The Shack.” I respect quite a lot of its artistic decisions and on a technical level, it looks quite beautiful. Some of the sets in this movie are just gorgeous! But I just cannot forgive its lazy characters, on the nose writing and cringe-worthy acting, which are three major keys to a successful film. If you really want to see “The Shack” because of your own beliefs, just disregard everything I just said and go see it. You’ll obviously love it.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Works very well for its intended faith based audience
THE BAD – On the nose dialogue and cringe worthy acting still sinks the movie