Ewan Gleadow

Movie Review: Faith Based

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To this day, it still amazes me that there is such a large market for films that look to peddle faith. I have no qualms with religion or those who follow in the words of the almighty sky beasts that consolidate power to preachers, but to actually watch a horrid mess of a film funded through faith is an oddity I wish to delve deeper into. Left Behind was a fascinating paycheck movie Nicolas Cage took, but as a piece of art or entertainment, it lacks any resemblance of competency, and I’m sure some out there will have heard of the legendary God’s Not Dead series. Faith Based looks to tackle the weird world of faithful filmmaking, acting on the almighty words of various Lords and Gods who seem to say “make a film about all the Christians disappearing in the rapture”. 

Realising they can make more money creating a faux religious flick than they can with any genuine artistic intent, this feature film from up-and-comer Vincent Masciale is a solid mixture of mockumentary footage following a pair of best friends hitting their mid-life crisis moment, interviews with those around them, and a couple of sketch-like moments to fill in the downtime. Masciale does well to mention the films that not only inspire his protagonists, but his work also. He loses his way from time to time, the overwhelming arcs the story looks to process do smack a little amateurish, but this isn’t a heavy-hitting, big-budget movie, it has all the highs and lows of independent charm, and relies on them dutifully throughout.  

Attracting a surprisingly impressive cast including Lance Reddick and Jason Alexander, Faith Based has a unique energy that incorporates these draws, rather than relies on them. It’s good to see Masciale has faith not just in his script, but his promising, fresh leads. They carry the film rather well, solid performances that should see us through a couple more collaborations between the two. It feels like something is missing, though, these performers aren’t around for too long and their subplots are rather half-baked. The central plot is lost somewhat, we devolve into two filmmakers just making a solid film with bad writing, rather than a mockery of the genre.  

The key draw Faith Based has though is that it isn’t mean or cruel to the subject it mocks. Everything is fair game, but never taken to the extreme of more controversial satire. It relies on idiots attempting to pull together a film in only ten days, and soon becomes more a mockery of freshman filmmakers than of the Christian films adorning bargain bins and charity shops up and down the country. Fast and loose in its style of filmmaking, there are a lot of bright ideas here that aren’t fully capitalised on, it shoots itself in the foot really, and all it can do is pray someone out there finds it funny.