Movie Review: War Room

I am going to try something a little different this week. No Escape came out and I really do not want to see it. It looks like Hotel Rwanda if it was boring and stared an actor that has not been relevant in about a decade. I may consider seeing We Are Your Friends, but if I wanted to watch a movie about a group of musicians splitting over personal issues, I would watch Straight Outta Compton or every music movie ever made. Instead, I am seeing War Room, a Christian film.

If you have read my posts called Cine-Sadism, you already know my stance on the genre. In situations like this, I tend to wait until the movie comes out on DVD so I can analyze it in depth. I admit I am behind on posts and have a backlog of Christian movies waiting for me to dissect with a hacksaw. But I must put something out and since I am not seeing No Escape or We Are Your Friends, I have chosen War Room, a situation that reminds of the time I had to see The Longest Ride. Did I regret my decision?

Propaganda is built upon conjecture and contrivances to fortify the views and opinions of a given movement upon a selected populace. Whether it is a negative or positive message, propaganda uses ideas and concepts prevalent to the movement, be they true or false. Either way, both must be consistent with said movement to garner support from the populace.

Joseph Gobble’s The Eternal Jew was able to demonize an entire culture of people on the basis they are good with money. Vladimir Putin justified the annexation of Crimea in a speech on Victor Day, eluding its “liberation” to Russia’s triumph over the Nazis. I.S.I.S. advertises its might by showing people drowning in a cage, decapitations with det-cord, homosexuals thrown from roof tops, mass executions, discrimination against Iraqi ethnic groups, and the rape and enslavement of women.

Christian films are propaganda. They use ideas and concepts taken from their faith and apply them in a fashion that enhances the message that Christians are awesome. As a nihilistic anarcho-capitalist, these movies are obviously not for me, but when seen by an outsider, they do not paint a very appealing picture for how Christians view the world’s people. God’s Not Dead was my first foray into the genre and boy, was I surprised.

Basically, if you are an Atheist, you are a rude, sociopathic tyrant; if you are Muslim, you hate women and scrutinize how they dress before beating them; if you are a Liberal, you are a cantankerous, cancerous (literally), snob; and if you a greedy business man, you do not care for the lives of others. But if you are a Christian, you are a cool guy who will be rewarded for your worship, and those who do not believe are punished because they’re inherently bad people. War Room is not as insidious, yet it has no problem targeting women to push its message.

While enduring a turbulent marriage of constant arguing with her husband Tony, played by T.C. Stallings, Elizabeth, played by Priscilla C. Shirer, seeks the help of prayer on the recommendation of Clara, played by Karen Abercrombie. With her goal in sight, Elizabeth makes a war room out of her closet, a space reserved for prayer as she seeks God to fix her marriage.

War Room’s message is not all bad. It advocates a need for families to communicate and actually be there for each other, a struggle many real couples go through. Tony and Elizabeth are never there for their daughter because of their jobs nor do they have any real love for one another. The movie shows relatable problems the characters overcome and come back stronger like most stories should. That would be the end of it if the subtext of the message were not so damning.

When Elizabeth seeks counsel from Clara, she fervently wants to go on the offensive against the way Tony treats her. But Clara suggests the opposite. She wants Elizabeth to submit and pray to God to fix her marriage, claiming Satan is taking over her life and depleting the joy she once had. Clara is saying there is no point in trying to be active in her marriage because the Devil is in control.

Delusion aside, the idea of submission in a bad relationship is never a good idea. There is no denying prayer and meditation have their benefits to one’s state of mind, but if you are praying for something that can be fixed by having a conversation with your partner and doing nothing else, it simply will not work. It encourages the problem and is counter productive to healing. One cannot guilt their partner into changing by letting them go on hurting the relationship. It is like saying “When the gunman realizes that nobody else is armed, he will lay down his weapons and turn himself in,” because that makes total sense!

Sure, your husband beats the piss out of you to the point your eye is about to fall out, but as long as you let him punch the other side of your face and keep praying for God to make him stop, it will turn out all right, honey. Do not call the police; that will only make Satan angrier.

Obviously I am overacting and overthinking, but it is movies like this that make me proud to be a male feminist. Too often do real world women suffer injustices based on religion and outdated ideals. They are denied basic rights like education, birth control, and a driver’s license on the grounds of delusional beliefs, and there is often no support system to improve their lives when faced with discrimination. If I had my way, I would take my rifle, fly to Iraq, join a Kurdish unit, and kill the shit-lords that want to force those hateful vales onto everyone else. But here I sit, complaining on the Internet in my apartment. If my useless ramblings have any merit, you will see the damage movies like War Room and God’s Not Dead do upon a world consumed by the inferior beliefs of fanatics in all aspects of culture, be it religious or political.

As for the rest of the movie, I do not understand why it was released in theaters. Like all Christian films, its quality is that of a TV movie with ordinary camera work and serviceable production values. It is as if George Lucas were behind the camera with the number of shot-reverse-shots, scenes of people sitting down, and the intentional absence of craft to quickly push the movie into distribution.

With all Christian movies comes the signature endless expository dialogue, “comedy,” forced scenes that would have been better-served cut, and awkward moments that seemed to be written by aliens or Tyler Perry. War Room ironically has so little faith in its audience it has to spell everything out. Then again, considering the target audience, it is not surprising they would need a little help to figure out what is happening. Speaking of the audience, the rather large, church-like gathering of families and friends in my theater apparently posses a sense of humor that found every contrived attempt to be funny incredibly hilarious. Of the 120-minute runtime, there were maybe two instances in which I laughed. On top of that comes more cringe-worthy moments than the entirety of The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl. You could make a drinking game for every time you squirm in your seat and be dead an hour in.

On a lighter note, the acting was quite good. Shirer and Stalling were very emotional in the scenes where they undergo a religious awaking and I was convinced of their tears. Both, however, were a little weak early on. I got the feeling they were there for the paycheck. The worst scene was when Shirer walks through her house trying to cast out Satan, which was applauded by my so very competent audience. I would have laughed if I were not so dumbfound by the sheer camp of it all. Abercrombie was dedicated to her part as a black version of Sophia from Golden Girls and had great timing with her jokes.

Christian movies are poison. They uphold ideas that are a detriment to common sense and take us steps backwards into ignorance. I advocate freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and more so the right to bear arms, but when something or someone perpetuates harmful beliefs that actively destroy the foundations of logic and goodwill, it needs to be put down with extreme prejudice. In simple terms, do not support movies like War Room. If you need to see something this week, Straight Outta Compton, American Ultra, and The Gift are still in theaters.  Better yet, save your money for the coming release of MGSV because who needs Jesus when you have Big Boss?

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