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OPINION

Nefarious: A Faith-Based Horror Film?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Nefarious/YouTube

What exactly is a faith-based film? Don't all stories require suspension of disbelief or "faith?" The film's reviews reveal more about the reviewers' beliefs than the film itself.

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Adapted from the bestselling book A Nefarious Plot by conservative podcaster Steve Deace and made by Christian filmmakers Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, the movie succeeds with almost dialogue alone to entrap viewers in a drama of the soul.

I will try to separate the hyper-politicized critique from the merits of the film below — the wheat from the chaff, so to speak — and begin with Andrew Breitbart's reminder that "politics is downstream of culture." But first, the movie.

The narrative of Nefarious is straightforward: A supposed sociopathic murderer named Edward Wayne Brady (Sean Patrick Flanery) is in prison and awaiting interrogation. We learn that he's not insane but a nefarious demon who welcomes the electric chair to flee his current host.

Our protagonist is Dr. James Martin (Jordan Belfi), a professed atheist sent to judge Brady's sanity and, thus, his life or death; he learns from Nefarious and the world down under (a la The Screwtape Letters) that by the end of their session, he (Martin) will commit three murders.

Therein lies the inciting incident that sparks the conflict.

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With harsh words, minimal violence, and spiritual will, Nefarious (in Latin, “Nefarium”) adds that he has disposed of his prior psychiatrist through suicide and reveals that he did not choose Dr. Martin for his resume or expertise but for other devilish purposes. 

Sean Patrick Flanery performs a mercurial character with tics and bipolar outbursts to express a "legion” of demons rippling through the flesh of one pitiful man, Brady. Jordan Belfi (Dr. Martin) is slightly naive, perhaps two-dimensional, and rounds out a decent supporting cast.

In a plot that bespeaks the arrogance of modern man, it works toward proving the moral theme: Judge not, lest ye be judged. It also cautions the audience: dismiss faith (and the devil) at your peril.

In the end, though it is flawed, the film delivers on its dramatic expectations.

I know something about making low-budget independent films (cf. robomantix.com). Try producing a Mercedes for 5k, and have armchair critics point out the flaws! 

You'd respond with, “Duh, you idiots, that's why it was only 5k!”

Nefarious blends genres. Think The Silence of the Lambs mixed with The Exorcist and some Screwtape Letters, which positions it ipso facto as an enemy to political virtue signaling and a godless universe. 

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Given the budget and scale, the story wisely focuses on the core conflict between a demon and a modern psychiatrist (scientist), pitting redemption against self-destruction and peeling back our current assumptions, which threaten some.

However, a film narrative like Nefarious is merely a syntax, conveying story like the writing of this article — just a vehicle. The critics' biased response to the filmmakers reveals that Breitbart was right: The Christian worldview at the film's center is moving upstream against modern culture.

Believe it or not, you would be crazy not to see the film! Unless you're afraid to have a demon like Nefarious challenge your disbelief.

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