become a Patreon patron

maryann johanson | #BlackLivesMatter

War Room movie review: to the Devil with it

War Room red light

Slick production values cannot overcome a preachy script full of strained metaphors delivered by wooden actors. Like a corporate promo video for God.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): do not believe in the power of prayer

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

If you’ve ever wondered what a corporate promo video made by God’s marketing department would look like, now we know. Slick production values cannot overcome a literally preachy script full of embarrassingly strained metaphors delivered by wooden actors… and that’s even before we get to the scene in which an old lady disarms a mugger with the power of Jesus; the sincerity of that bit only renders it all the more ludicrous.

Smart and confident real-estate agent Elizabeth (Priscilla C. Shirer) is having trouble at home: her husband, Tony (T.C. Stallings), a pharmaceutical sales rep, is nasty, inflexible, tempted to stray, and worse. Their little daughter, Danielle (Alena Pitts), is sad because Mommy and Daddy are always fighting… and, this movie would instruct us, that is all on Elizabeth to fix, using that power of Jesus. Her new client, Clara (Karen Abercrombie), is a nosy old biddy who does not hesitate to appoint herself Elizabeth’s marriage counselor, and the totality of her advice is this: When a marriage is on the rocks, the Devil is to blame, so all Elizabeth has to do is pray for everything to get better. Oh, and she should be nice to her husband, no matter how cruel he is to her or what idiotically stupid things he might do.

That’s right: this is a movie about the proper sort of wifely submission a Christan woman should engage in, and it gets more depressing the deeper Elizabeth gets into it. Eventually, she is out on the lawn shouting at Satan, and not one neighbor on their upscale suburban street even calls the cops or anything; nor does she appear to have any non-Christian friends who might give her more practical advice.

The strange detours the film takes, in plot and theme, range from those of the head-scratching variety — a entire double-dutch jump-rope competition seems to have gotten dropped in here from another kind of movie — to the obnoxious: a running joke about how bad Elizabeth’s feet smell that is supposed to pass for humor is simply callous. Worst, though, is this: Prayer here is a way to ignore problems that are actually right in your face, Satanic influence is an excuse for bad behavior, and “God’s grace” is a dodge for escaping punishment. And this film is from people who think they hold a moral high ground, the brother filmmaking team of Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who are also responsible for the “faith-based” hits Courageous and Fireproof. Disgusting.

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of War Room for its representation of girls and women.

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

Pin It on Pinterest