Jesus doesn't want me for a sunbeam

So I heard that I Know Who Killed Me, Lohan's last movie before she went back to the drug hole, may possibly be the worst movie ever made. I admit that I kind of wanted to see it. And now, after hearing this, I want to see it even more. That link will take you to the hysterically funny audio review offered up by the guys of the Reel Horror podcast. Seriously, I laughed so hard at the description of this movie that I almost puked. Rest assured that when it comes out on DVD in November that I will watch it and offer up a review of my own.

To hold you over in the meantime, here are a couple of reviews in honor of the season. For the record, I am sick and I have a lot of time on my hands this week, so I thought about catching a couple of docs I've been wanting to see, coincidentally both "godly." What does this have to do with the season? Um, one's sort of about Halloween, I guess...


First off, we have the Oscar-nominated Jesus Camp, a film about an evangelical childrens' camp and ministry called (wait for it...) "Kids on Fire." It's far scarier than Zodiac (which I totally loved, by the way, and if you haven't seen it, please do), but provided me with so many laughs that I actually felt a little bit bad. I think it's safe to say that no matter what your belief system is, if you are a rational person, you will find this movie as laughably fucked-up as I did. I mean, these are kids and they are not old enough to really know exactly what they are saying. When you weigh that depressing aspect against the hilarious double standards and other crazy shit the adults around them are squawking, it's hard not to snicker at least a little bit. Especially when the kids really get going to appease their elders.

One of the campers, a 9-year-old named Rachael, parrots to the cameras that Jesus doesn't like "dead churches" and prefers to "be there" for congregations that are jumping around, shouting and singing, an idea I'm sure she came up with all by herself. The organizers make the kids say a blessing to a cardboard cut-out of George Bush ("Talk to him. Say, 'Welcome, President Bush! We're glad you're here!'"), then later on, Pastor Becky Fischer (who runs the camp) tells a radio talk show host that she's "not going after [her] kids politically." They all finish up with the exact same smugly satisfied grins and with the exact same mission statement that they're just on a crusade to "win the lost."

Here are a few fun quotes from the movie:
At five I got saved because I just wanted more out of life.
—Levi, a 12-year-old with a rat tail

I can go into a playground of kids that don't know anything about Christianity, lead them to the Lord in a matter of, just no time at all, and just moments later they can be seeing visions and hearing the voice of God, because they're so open. They are so usable in Christianity.
—Pastor Becky Fischer, operator of the camp. Later in the movie she admonishes the devil for "going after the young, those who cannot fend for themselves."

Father, we pray over the electrical systems, we pray over the electricity will [sic] not go out in this building in Jesus' name, because of storms or any other reason. I just pray over this equipment, we speak over the PowerPoint presentations, all the video projectors and we say, 'Devil, we know you love to do in meetings like this' and we say, 'You will not!' No microphone problems in Jesus' name!
—Becky, while praying over the meeting hall before camp

Warlocks are enemies of god...and had it been in the Old Testament, Harry Potter would have been put to death!
—Becky, to a roomful of campers. She later accuses the kids of being "a phony and a hypocrite" for calling themselves Christians when they KNOW that they are one person at church and an entirely different person at school, where they "talk dirty just like all the other kids." This causes the majority of the kids to beging crying and pleading for forgiveness.

It's like, we're being trained to be warriors, only in a much funner way.

Next to the speaking in tongues scenes, the best part is when meth fag Ted Haggard shows up in an interview to smarmily discuss how kids love the evangelical scene and then actually declare straight to the cameraman, "I think I know what you did last night! If you send me a thousand dollars, I won't tell your wife!" Do I really need to make fun of that? It goes along with the clip that I think unintentionally sums up the entire movie: little Rachael prays to Jesus to help her roll "a good one" during a church bowling trip and he answers her petty request by granting her a big, fat gutterball.

Speaking of gutterballs (or gutters, I guess...or balls), I also recently watched the documentary Hell House, which chronicles a Halloweenie season with a Texas church that puts on a "real-life" house of horrors every year. This is one haunted house that won't feature Freddy, Jason, Leatherface or even clowns. No, these are scenes of horror and carnage that can occur to those who don't accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. This movie is a little more breatheable than Jesus Camp, which I found stifiling from all the rigidity, but it's still drenched with folks full the same self-congratulation and dumb-ass stereotypes. Oh, the stereotypes in this one. I couldn't stop laughing at those crazy stereotypes!

The movie starts out with the planning of the latest Hell House and, since they already did Columbine and Padukah recreations, a discussion of how they're going to cover the school-kid-goes-nuts-and-kills-himself scene commences. One perv helpfully suggests, "Why don't we have a gay bar scene with two girls hitting on each other?" and the pastor shoots it down by saying they "don't want to go there." As in Jesus Camp, "reaching the lost" is mentioned ad nauseum.

Tryouts come next and we're treated to lots of overacting and more fun typecasting. The church members will be acting out vignettes in each horror scene. A Latino kid approaches the casting committee and says he wants to do anything but the drug-deal scene because that's all he ever gets. "If the spirit leads you," he says, "let it lead you for me to not do the drug deal scene." True life is far funnier than fiction, everyone.

The rehearsals of the scenes also showcase more woefully archaic ideologies, including the ever-popular "one wrong choice that seems innocent can lead you on a downward spiral straight into the hands of beezlebub" rap. The Trinity Church's twist on this old favorite is how Harry Potter leads to Ouija boards, which leads to Magic cards, which leads to RPGs, which leads to—dun-dun-DUNNNN!!!—the OCCULT!

I was chiefly annoyed by the "cool dude" at the church, Thaddeus, who is a DJ and has actually been to raves so he knows what they're like and what goes on there. He appoints himself in charge of the completely bizarre rave/suicide scene (which I'll get to in a minute) and he keeps blowharding to all the younger kids how at raves "people will take what is put in their hand" and, when one girl starts acting spastic after she pretends to take ecstasy, smugly directs "I've seen people on this drug and it doesn't make girls spaz out. You need to act more like you're really relaxed." I wished someone would have punched this douche nozzle in the face, but you know...it's, like, church and everything.

The group records voiceovers that will be played in the final, epic "hell" scene of the sinners repenting. Naturally, the "alternative lifestyle" voice guy performs in a slurry, high-pitched tone with accompanying mincing gestures. You'll never believe it: the truth is that when the gay guy was a kid he was touched inappropriately and he made the wrong choice in life, thinking it was natural! The voiceover guy also expresses fears that people out in the hall might hear him. Uh-oh, they might all think you're gay!

The final hour shows the actual opening and operation of Hell House, so we get to actually see some of the scenes. Surprise! More pigeonholing! We see what happens with a gay guy with AIDS (of course, because in Trinity's world, only gay men can get AIDS) doesn't accept Jesus into his life on his deathbed, and conversely, what happens when a girl who has just gotten an abortion does. She's saved, baby! Miracle! Oh, and in case you're wondering, the Latino boy did not get the drug dealer part...instead that role went to one of the few black guys in the church. So, you know, progress.

OK, now for the rave scene, which pissed me off to no end. Thaddeus hams it up as a ghoulish DJ and some innocent chick is slipped a mickey and then gangraped at the rave. The next scene shows her wailing in her bedroom with some twat in a demon costume chastising her that she has "no idea how many guys had you!" and "no boy will ever want you now!" and "remember when daddy used to touch you?" The girl then pretends to commit suicide and she is condemned to hell. OK, what the motherfucking fuck are they trying to convey here? It doesn't make an iota of sense! Why is *she* going to hell for being drugged and gang-raped while the rapists get away from hell scot-free? And why in the world was everyone molested?? What kind of fucked-up logic dictates that a victim of sexual abuse is sinful? Even more troublesome is that the young lady who played "suicide girl" interviews that one year she saw the guy who raped her two years earlier standing in line to view Hell House and, that night, she did the "best acting of [her] life." WHAT??? They don't give any more information than this, so to be fair, I don't know if she reported this crime or what. However, the guy is free walking the streets and seemingly not required to stay away from the victim, so the only conclusion I can draw from this is that perhaps Hell House (and the condemnation that goes along with it) is all too real for some of these kids. Perhaps *she* herself is also being typecast.

Happily, some of the attendees of the haunted house weren't buying it. One group of teens starts ranting to one of the church members about the hypocracy and stereotyping. Then one girl makes the most coherant comment I heard from either one of these films: "What we saw in there is why people are turned off by Christianity. You make it black and white; there is no gray area, which is what life is."

Amen, sista!

(Psst...if you want to check out these docs for yourself, go here for Jesus Camp and here for Hell House.)

1 comment:

Lola said...

Uh....I'm stunned.

Now I must watch both.

I found this site online-pretty cool docs: