The Shack Review

“The Shack” is directed by Stuart Hazeldine starring Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Radha Mitchell, Tim McGraw and Alice Braga.  The film tells the story of Mack, “Mackenzie” Phlilips who is coping with the tragic death of his youngest daughter.  One day, Mack receives a mysterious invitation from someone called “Papa” who invites him to visit the Shack where his daughter was brutally killed.  Mack accepts the invitation and comes face to face with God in a poetic and beautiful way that is both symbolic and grounded in reality.  “The Shack” is based on the worldwide phenomenon book of the same name written by William P. Young.

“The Shack” is a very interesting movie for a couple of reasons.  I tend to stay away from a lot of faith based movies because they come across as very preachy.  They feel like long lectures and sermons and most of the time are not handled with care.  The other reason is because they can come off as very cheesy.  “The Shack” has a few moments like this but what makes this film stand apart from a lot of those other Hallmark type films is that this movie is handled with extreme care.  There are so many great life and faith based lessons in here but they never come across as lecturing or preachy.  They present both sides of very philosophical arguments; the big one being “where were you when I was suffering?”  The film is deeply sad, touching and hopeful and is sure to make you shed a tear.  This is such an incredibly beautiful film and it is a movie that has stuck with me.

“The Shack” is graced by a terrific and talented cast.  Sam Worthington who I’m a big fan of plays the lead and Octavia Spencer is spectacular playing God in a very unique way that we have never seen before on-screen.  All of the actors really gave this film their all and they brought so much depth and emotion into a wonderful story.  The pristine direction by Stuart Hazeldine was spot on and I loved all of the amazing biblical references and symbolism that was packed tightly into this tragic tale.  And when I say tragic, I mean it.  This is a sad, sad movie but inside the dark and depressing stare of death, there is new life and hope for our characters.  This is a movie about healing; it is about letting go and forgiving; moving on with life and searching for our true purpose here on Earth.  This movie has a lot of great teaching moments but again they never come off as preachy, daunting or even lecturing.  They come naturally and become so emotional it’s hard to shake.

I thought this was a really phenomenal film, but I did have one gripe with it and it’s an editing and story element issue.  The first 25 minutes or so are told out of sequential order in a flashback kind of way.  I don’t have a problem with flashbacks but the way this movie handles that flashback felt a little off, tedious and somewhat jarring.  The purpose of a flashback is to tell some story or back story point quickly but this movie spent a huge chunk of that flashback in the first act and for me, editing wise it was strenuous.  I think the film would have flowed better if they kept the whole movie in sequential order.  You may not know what the heck I am talking about but if and when you go see it you will notice it.  Some people won’t think twice about it but for me it felt a little daunting and somewhat jarring.  Other than that, I have no complaints about this movie and really enjoyed it.

“The Shack” won’t convert you to Christianity by any means but it does challenge us to look at our faith in a way that we have never seen before.  The film helps open our wounds so that we can examine what’s truly deep down inside of us.  This film helps us look inward and shows us how to cope with the death of a loved one.  “The Shack” teaching and inspires, touches and contemplates the true meaning of life and love.  This was such an incredible movie I cannot recommend it enough.  If you are not Christian, it may not be the movie for you but I got a lot out of it and thought about the subject matter for days.  “The Shack” will dig deep into your soul and cry out for God’s given justice.

Grade:  A

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