When it comes to faith-themed movies, there tends to be a major disparity between critics’ ratings and viewer reviews, with the most stark and shocking example of this dynamic emerging after the recent release of the movie “The Shack.”
The film, which is described by IMDb as focusing on “a grieving man (who) receives a mysterious, personal invitation to meet with God at a place called ‘The Shack'” currently has an 86 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes among more than 8,000 viewers.
But here’s where things get a bit dicey: 0 percent of “top critics” included in the site’s rating gave the feature film favorable marks. Yes, you read that correctly: 0 percent. Among “all critics” — which includes additional critics’ ratings — that proportion barely crept up to 18 percent, showcasing a deep divide between professional reviewers and the audience at large.
Reviewer Peter Sobczynski said, “‘The Shack’ wants to be a sincere exploration of faith and forgiveness but somehow manages to be both too innocuous and too off-putting for its own good.” And Adam Graham added, “‘The Shack’ is a grief-packed journey through loss, bargaining and acceptance that feels like an overly long church sermon.”
Now, before we continue, it should be noted that “The Shack” has sparked quite a bit of controversy among Christians, specifically due to its depiction of a female God, played by Octavia Spencer. Still, the film does contain some thought-provoking scenes and themes about overcoming grief that many Bible-believers have found useful.
Either way, this isn’t the first time there’s been a major difference between reviewers’ perceptions and audience ratings on faith films. As TheBlaze has repeatedly noted, previously released Christian films have faced similar battles.
For instance, the film “Little Boy,” which released in 2015, saw a wide disparity as well, with just 10 percent of top critics liking the film compared to 88 percent of the audience at large. The reviews themselves were also quite harsh.
And it doesn’t end there. Other faith-based films like “Moms’ Night Out” have experienced similar treatment; that movie earned 6 percent of top reviewers’ accolades, but currently has favor among 67 percent of the 19,594 people who have reviewed the movie on Rotten Tomatoes since its release.
At the time, “Moms’ Night Out” director Jon Erwin talked to TheBlaze about the disparity, attributing it to the media and Hollywood not understanding Christian audiences.
“What you see is a group of underserved people who have not felt appreciated who now have an outlet and a voice and an ability to celebrate themselves,” he said of the fans’ responses. “Hollywood and the mainstream press (don’t) understand these people.”
In the end, it’s possible that reviewers simply dislike the quality or plot lines of these films, though the overwhelmingly positive reactions from audiences at least show that there’s clearly a market for more faith-based and family friendly content.
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