Robert Saitzyk’s Brooding Godspeed


His relationship with God complicated after his wife and son are incomprehensibly murdered, small-time Alaskan “faith healer” Charlie Shepard (Joseph McKelheer) moves to a trailer in the woods, grows his beard out, finds solace in the whiskey bottle, and inks out all the lies in his Bible—till it’s almost completely black. Not that Charlie was a saint before the unsolved crime, having cheated with a prostitute and begun his descent into alcoholism, but it’s his murky reverence to the gospel that fuels co-writer/director Robert Saitzyk’s brooding, slow-burning northern-gothic drama/revenge thriller/backwoods horror. Suspense is introduced along with angelic teenager Sarah (Courtney Halverson), the daughter of one of Charlie’s sick parishioners, who asks for help and brings the broken evangelist to the very men responsible for his family’s slaughter. Amid gorgeous panoramas, blood spills in the name of loony, misinformed good intentions. The tone fits the material and the performances are surprisingly measured, but Saitzyk’s sappy pontifications on loss, redemption, and zealotry don’t register as headily as they’re meant to (every character gets at least one melodramatic speech), and the spirituality invoked feels about as sincere as the Christian who only attends Christmas mass.

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