(director/writer: Brock Heasley; cinematographer: Edd Lukas; editor: Chris Witt; music: Dan Haseltine, Matthew S. Nelson; cast: Kristoffer Polaha (Kevin Garner), Neal McDonough (The Benefactor), Sean Astin (Gabriel), Elizabeth Tabish (Molly Garner), John Billingsley (Russo), Jason Marsden (Cyrus), Paras Patel (Rajit Nadir), Rose Reid (Tina), John Walker Ross (Brenda); Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Brock Heasley, Ken Carpenter; Angel Studios; 2023)

“Goethe would roll over in his grave if he saw what became of his Faust in the hands of these right-wing evangelicals.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Filmmaker Brock Heasley directs and writes this lackluster full-length follow-up to his 2017 short of the same title. It’s a dystopian faith-based sci-fi film that’s lacking in scares and suspense. The film blends together religion with sci-fi to show that religion can give us hope when technology fails us or is misused. It’s an ambitious but strained film that doesn’t work, is incoherent, the dialogue is terrible, and is clunky. It’s at its worst, however, over its Christian proselytizing. It loosely offers a modern version of the Biblical Job story, where God tests the faith of Job when he must patiently endure hard times. 

The hedge-fund worker, Kevin Garner (Kristoffer Polaha), is fired from his high-powered job after the market downturn in 2008. The former alcoholic then goes to a hotel bar to get drunk and forget his troubles, but instead he meets the church-going Molly (Elizabeth Tabish) and falls in love. They marry after a few years dating and have a son. They struggle getting by financially, but have a good marriage.

One day Kevin meets a Mephistopheles-like character called The Benefactor (Neal McDonough). He tells Kevin he has the power to “shift” him into another dimension. Satan sees Kevin as a possible evil minion in the alternate universe, another soldier in his evil army, and tries recruiting him by offering him immense wealth. But Kevin refuses to take the bait. So Satan transports him to a hellish dystopian dimension by using a shifting bracelet device called the “deviator.” Now Kevin is no longer with Molly. Thereby his aim becomes to find a way to reunite with her. He survives this hellish dimension for years by immersing himself in prayer, being patient and keeping the faith. His way out is when his pal (Sean Astin) shows him a machine, whereby he can view other dimensions. By using the special bracelet he uncovers, he’s able to escape to find Molly to resume his good life with her.

“The Shift” infers the wrong people are on the top of society because the virtuous are the ones now marginalized.

The heroic Kevin struggled to survive for years in another dimension by devoting his life to finding God, Molly and maybe some good stocks. He has been undeservedly punished by Satan for being a true believer. But you can bet your rosary beads that Kevin, a privileged white Christian, passes this religious test to survive by being faithful to his religious beliefs and is favored by the Lord to have his day to shine when it comes time to enter heaven.

Goethe would roll over in his grave if he saw what became of his legendary Faust tale in the hands of these demeaning right-wing evangelicals.

12/8/2023  GRADE: D