The Reconciler – Christian Movie Review

Kevin Ott - Editor and Writer for Rocking God's House (small)You might say that we’re in the Golden Age, or perhaps the early phase of the Golden Age, of faith-based filmmaking. With any boom in an industry, the wave of it creates a spike of artistic activity. The increase in demand for faith-based films gives people an opportunity to tell stories that would not have been possible to tell otherwise. The rise of indie Christian filmmakers, from individual directors to entire churches producing their own films, is an example of this.

For this reason, it’s always nice to check in with the Christian indie film world and see what people are up to. One of those people is Shawn Justice, the director of the film “The Reconciler,” which I had a chance to view recently. The IMDB summary describes the film as a thriller with the following plot: “An intriguing stranger tries to bring friends and family members who have been torn apart, together again. As he tries to get others to reconcile their differences, his motives still remain a mystery.”

What makes this film unique and intriguing, to me at least, is its subtle flirtation with the techniques of a horror plot–the kind that involves kidnapping and unknown masterminds and that nagging feeling that something bad might happen, and even if nothing too crazy happens, you still can’t shake the creepiness of the person behind all of it. It’s one of those situations in which the absence of a character–a character only described by other characters–kickstarts the imagination, and it makes the character loom larger in your mind as the story develops.

To be clear, this is a clean faith-based film that is family friendly. This is not a horror movie. But it borrows just ever so slightly from the tension that those kind of stories create in their expositions. It uses the tension to pull us deeper into stories of reconciliation. In the cultural havoc that America finds itself in today, we need as many of these stories of reconciliation as possible, and “The Reconciler” packs several such tales into its unique storyline.

(And, as a tangent, I won’t say whether or not the mastermind behind the kidnappings is evil–don’t want to give any spoilers away–but he’s definitely not sane. The crime of kidnapping automatically warrants a life sentence in the court of law–at least it does in California. So the character at the center of this movie is, in my opinion, at least a little bit unhinged. The uncertainty about his sanity is what gives the movie its primary tension.)

I was especially impressed with the scenes with the late (great) Roddy Piper and Sherry Morris. (Roddy Piper passed away in 2015, sadly.) Piper makes a fantastic news boss (I could easily imagine him as a hard-nosed news editor in some mainstream studio film), and I enjoyed Morris’s storyline and performance and the way they wrote her conversations with others about faith. It was a compelling way to bring in-depth topics of faith, truth, and philosophy to light. Most movies just barely glance off those topics, even when they do address them. But the interview format in Morris’s scenes gives the movie the ability to speak more deeply about topics that our culture too often neglects.

And that’s always refreshing to see in a film.