“This is not my world.”
A couple of years ago, Angel Studios released a short film that presented the premise of a movie in hopes of securing financial investors in the project, which I remember finding interesting, but rough around the edges. The studio behind Sound of Freedom, The Wingfeather Saga, Tuttle Twins, Dry Bar Comedy, and the incredibly popular and well-made series The Chosen, will bring their vision to reality on December 1st – and I’m confident in telling you, the rough edges have been sanded down, and this movie is very well made.
Love Thy Nerd was given an opportunity to view The Shift in advance and this is our early (non-spoiler) review.
There is one thing going against the movie from the start. In the time since the first original short film came out, a ridiculous number of movies and series have been released featuring multiverses and alternate realities, to the point where most of us have “multiverse fatigue”.
But the twist though with this film is… what if the multiverse was used by the Devil to create havoc? What if some misunderstandings that end marriages, bankrupt businesses, or even start wars were caused by Satan shifting people between similar realities?
The main story kicks off when Kevin Garner (Kristoffer Polaha) is in a car accident. When he wakes up, he is in an alleyway, patched up and disoriented, with The Benefactor (Neal McDonough) standing over him with an offer. It’s the standard offer of wealth and power. As The Benefactor unfolds his offer, Kevin finds out that his wife Molly (Elizabeth Tabish) has been shifted away.
Now stranded himself in a dystopian reality that is ruled by The Benefactor, Kevin embarks on a near-hopeless journey to find and rescue his wife through different realities.
The exposition stops there for this review, as I don’t want to spoil the ride this movie will take you on, but let me give you some of my thoughts on the movie as a whole.
Kristoffer Polaha, who you may know as Wyatt from Jurassic Park Dominion or the handsome man that Chris Pine possesses in Wonder Woman 84, does a phenomenal job in the leading role. He is fully believable in the role, emotionally gripping, and manages to make things like praying feel real and raw, where so many “Christian” movies come off as cheesy and unrealistic.
Neal McDonough, known for playing the villain in dozens of movies and TV shows (such as Damien Darhk in The Flash on the CW), puts in one of the best performances I’ve seen. To the point where I’m going to struggle not to picture the Devil as McDonough for the rest of my life.
Other familiar faces to the nerd community in the cast include Sean Austin (The Goonies, Lord of the Rings), John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise, The Man from Earth), Jason Marsden (A Goofy Movie, Spirited Away), and Elizabeth Tabish, recognizable as Mary Magdalene in The Chosen.
While there are definitely a lot of familiar elements in this movie inspired by other films in the genre, The Shift does a fantastic job of weaving them together into something that feels different and exciting.
Of course, the biggest worry for any piece of “Christian” media is… is it actually good? Or is it just a cheap facsimile of Hollywood that will be “good enough” for the Evangelicals? It’s been a constant struggle since even before I was born. Few things over the years have been standouts, but we are in an era now where it feels like that tide is turning, and Angel Studios is proving to be a major player in that.
The Shift is a standout. It’s a game changer and the start of something great. A Christian Sci-Fi thriller that can keep me gripped the entire movie through? I never thought I’d see the day. Another unique thing about this movie is that it doesn’t seem to be aimed at unbelievers, but rather a film that is encouraging believers in tough times. It’s not a glorified 2-hour Gospel tract, thank the Lord.
Now, that’s not to say the movie doesn’t have its faults. It’s a little spiritually heavy-handed at times, coming off in brief moments as preachy, but far less so than the typical Christian movie fare. The exposition around this world Kevin is trapped in feels rushed, making it difficult to catch in full the first time through, and leaving you to have to fill in the blanks as the movie continues. I wish we went deeper into the lore behind this world, and also why Kevin is such a key figure in this and several other realities. However, these are minor gripes for me.
This is a beautiful modern-day retelling of the story of Job (taking a lot of liberties, of course), with a fantastic message and plenty of stuff I’d love to unpack in a full spoiler-filled review in the future.
Until then, I’ll simply encourage you to see The Shift in theaters when it arrives on December 1st. The film is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 1 hour and 55 minutes. Catch the trailer below: