Most of the time, when critics write movie reviews, they’re careful to only give away the plot points that are necessary for the article to make sense, letting viewers learn the rest of the details when they see the film themselves. Dan Piepenbring, writing for the New Yorker, doesn’t bother doing that in a review for the new faith-based movie Let There Be Light.
Part of that isn’t his fault. Christians films are notoriously predictable. Someone struggles. Someone finds Jesus. There’s always a happy ending, because anything less would be sacrilege. When a character has a crisis of faith, you know exactly how that storyline will pan out. But Piepenbring goes further than that, sharing all the important details about the film so that no one has a reason to see the film.
That may be the point. He’s not a fan.
[Kevin Sorbo’s] movie encourages its white evangelical base to substitute piety for politics, as if their prayers will do more to halt ISIS than the government ever could — a point without currency for conservatives at a time when they control all of Washington. In 2017, the film’s veneer of Christian virtue can’t hide its Trumpian appeals to fear and to hate; nor can it disguise the kind of vanity that comes these days from the White House as much as from the multiplex.
The review also criticizes how Sean Hannity, the executive producer, inserted himself into the movie, turning it into a self-promotional vehicle. Because while the stated goal of the film is to convert viewers to Christianity, the real goal is to further boost Hannity’s popularity among his conservative base.
While the movie is in limited distribution, it’s only made $2.4 million over its first week. We don’t know the production budget, but that’s a relatively small take considering Hannity’s relentless promotion of the film and the amount of discussion it’s generated online (mostly in the form of negative reviews).
It’s for the best. If this movie makes as much as a dollar in profit, you know Hannity’s going to declare it a blockbuster and hire people to work on the sequel.