Little Town of Bethlehem
Residents of a small town are shocked when the image of Jesus appears on a neighbor’s screen door in this unique independent movie called -- you guessed it -- Screen Door Jesus. More slick and professional than most low budget films, this one tackles issues of religion, morality, race and sex while following a group of people living in Bethlehem, Texas, during the time of the vision. Miraculously, new filmmaker Kirk Davis manages to meld numerous characters and ideas together with entertaining as well as thought-provoking results.
It’s hard to believe that questions like the following (and more) could be dealt with so well in one coherent movie:
-- Should a person marry someone of a different faith?
-- Is it ethical to convert to a religion for an ulterior motive?
-- Should medical treatment be given to a dying person whose religion prohibits it?
-- What’s the best way to deal with mass hysteria?
-- Do the ends justify the means?
-- Why are religious and racial intolerance so harmful?
-- Is it appropriate to commercialize a religious object or experience?
Adapted by Davis and author Christopher Cook (from the latter’s stories), Screen Door Jesus boasts quirky characters who are great fun to watch as they struggle with the ideals of faith and the confusing moral issues of everyday life. Among the townspeople showcased are: a lecherous mayor; a scheming sexpot; a bigoted white banker; a black man who needs a loan; an arrogant security guard; a lonely widowed sheriff; the town’s youngest newcomer; an evangelistic grandmother; and, of course, the woman who owns the house with the famous screen door.
Although all cast members deliver believable performances, I was particularly impressed with Myk Watford, whose character moonlights in a bar as a singer/guitarist. Watford shines in these musical numbers, which should be no surprise since he’s a bona fide musician with the “Utah Mafia” band. Cynthia Dorn (The Rookie) also stands out with her amusing portrayal of Mother Harper -- whose screen door started everything.
Production values are first-rate here. Dan Stoloff’s (Miracle) rich cinematography and Galen York’s artistic production design evoke a sense of place; and Max Lichtenstein’s (Far from Heaven) soulful background music offers the right emotional support to what's happening on screen without detracting from the story.
Screen Door Jesus is not just a film to be seen. It’s also one to reflect and talk about.
(Released by Indican Pictures and rated “R” for language and some sexual material.)