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The Shack

(2017 USA)

unravels with intrigue and mystery

Genre: Drama Family
MPAA Rating: PG
for thematic material including some violence
Runtime: 90 minutes
Our Rating:
Directed by: Stuart Hazeldine
Cast: Tim McGraw),Megan Charpentier, Gage Munroe, Am�lie Eve, Sam Worthington, Olivia Spencer
Review by Diana Saenger

When it was announced that the movie The Shack would open this March there were many reactions in chat rooms about this story. Many friends and colleagues told me they read the book self-published by author William P. Young in 2007. Almost all of them said it was confusing; and some had problems with the theology.

The Phillips family is ready for their annual summer camp out with friends. Mack (Sam Worthington) gets the family bundled up and set off for some fun. Mack’s family has faith, but he can’t quite get to the same level because of the horrid upbringing and alcoholic and abusive treatment from his father.

Once everyone is set up in the forest area everyone kind of goes their own way. Mack is talking with this pastor (Tim McGraw); Nan Phillips is busy with rounding up and the older kids, Kate (Megan Charpentier) and Josh (Gage Munroe). Little sister Missy (Amélie Eve) is alone and playing with things on the picnic table.

Mark’s attention turns to the older kids in a boat on the lake and sees they are in trouble. He immediately runs into the water and saves them. But when he returns he discovers Missy is missing. Family and friends immediately search the area but have no luck. Once the authorities   arrive they reveal the bad news that someone abducted Missy and they believe she was taken to a cabin where they found her dress.

Unable to forgive himself for not watching Missy, Mack stays behind when the others leave. He walks the paths now covered with snow. One day he receives a note in the mail box that says, it’s been a while, you should drop by the shack.” It’s signed “Papa,” which is his children’s name for God.

Sam Worthington and Olivia Spencer 
Sam Worthington and Olivia Spencer

From this point the story takes on an odd journey. Mack visits the shack where Missy was found. He wonders and discovers Jesus (Avraham Aviv Alush) – supposedly, who makes Mack find enough faith to run across the top of a lake without going down in the water. He runs into an older black woman (Olivia Spencer) who is Papa (God). She tries to help Mack overcome his horrific state of mind through faith. He’s just not ready for that and continues on a lost journey.

I have to admit it was hard to believe Spencer had gone from an amazing NASA technician (in Hidden Figures) to playing God in a few months past that. Some things in the film seem really out of the realm of faith and Christianity. But then an event happens that puts Mack on the right track to his faith and healing.

The Shack is one of the hardest films I have yet to figure out. However, it’s all in the eye and mind of those who see it to determine their own thoughts about the movie.


Photo Credits: Jake Giles Netter / Lionsgate

Recommended Audience:
Those who like to figure out puzzling drama.