Film

Thriller Missionary Is a Taut Look at the Dark Side of Door-to-Door Evangelism

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Anthony DiBlasi’s taut look at the dark side of door-to-door evangelism starts off innocuously enough, but things go from The Tabernacles of Madison County to Play Moroni for Me in short order. Elder Kevin Brock (Mitch Ryan) isn’t the most devout, but he speaks the universal language of football. That’s important to single mom Katherine (Dawn Olivieri), whose son Kesley is desperate to make his junior-high team. Events progress in the way you’d expect between an attractive, semi-available woman (she’s separated from her husband) and a virile young man forbidden from acknowledging his throbbing urges.

Kevin’s instability isn’t initially apparent, but Katherine’s apparent reconciliation with husband Ian (Kip Pardue) is all the reason Kevin needs to go Latter-day Psycho. She probably shouldn’t have nodded off when he started talking about “populating the world with their spirit children.” And in fairness, DiBlasi isn’t indicting the Mormon Church as a whole. Brock’s mentor is a reasonable fellow, as door-to-door proselytizers go, and the church’s official spokesman is mostly empathetic.

There are also the familiar stalker-movie beats: Kevin briefly kidnaps Kesley from school (how soon we forget the lessons of Fatal Attraction), while Kevin’s ex-girlfriend offers some frank advice to Katherine about the advisability of purchasing firearms (I figured she was already packing, it being Florida and all). The tension in Missionary is surprisingly effective, especially given how easy it should be to put out an APB on a guy on a freaking bicycle, and there are enough scares to remind you to keep the chain latched when those polite young men in the slacks and neckties drop by.

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