Courtesy of Lionsgate
Papa (Octavia Spencer) and Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington) in THE SHACK.
THE SHACK (Stuart Hazeldine). 132 minutes. Opens Friday (March 3). See listing. Rating: N
There’s nothing like a child in peril to get people believing in Christ.
In 2014’s Heaven Is For Real and 2016’s Miracles From Heaven, kids are saved from death while harps play faintly. But The Shack ain’t fucking around. Here a child is abducted and murdered, our worst fear realized in phony and manipulative ways, and God shows up to save her father from despair.
The pie-making Almighty is played by Octavia Spencer, a nice touch, and she spends this two-hour-plus movie cozying up to Sam Worthington’s bereaved dad while explaining her existence and responsibilities.
We’re not getting a meaty debate on religion à la Martin Scorsese’s Silence or Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, but the kind of thing you’d hear from the pews. The film plays like a month’s accumulation of sermons, with warm lighting and digital effects bringing an Oz-like Heaven down to earth.
For churchgoers it’s a nice change of scenery, a visual aid beyond stained glass to reaffirm faith. For the rest of us, it’s a trap. We’re reminded how cruel the world can be, and if we don’t believe in Spencer’s pies, we stay miserable.