I'm going to preview this review of The Shack by saying I had absolutely no idea what this movie was about before I watched it on Netflix. The surprise for me was that it is a Christian film, which is a genre I'm not overly familiar with.
Directed by Stuart Hazeldine, it is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by author William P. Young. It follows the life of Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington, Under The Banner of Heaven) from his childhood to the present day.
Young Mack didn't have a great life. Raised by a loving mother but also by an alcoholic and abusive father, Mack's relationship with God faded. But now an adult and married with three children, he duly goes to mass with his family every Sunday, but honestly, his heart is not in it.
Then one weekend, during a camping trip, a family tragedy strikes. Mack's youngest daughter Missy is kidnapped and after a massive search is presumed dead.
Unsurprisingly, Missy's death hits everybody, especially Mack, very hard. With life forever changed and unable to move on, he finds a mysterious letter urging him to return to The Shack (where Missy died) to meet with Papa. Papa was the name Missy used to pray to God.
Mack reluctantly heads to the abandoned shack in the Oregon wilderness and it is here that he meets a woman named Papa, who is God. Actually, he meets the Holy Trinity, including the Holy Spirit and Jesus with God played by Octavia Spencer.
Over the next three days, Mack takes a journey that sets him on the path of understanding and forgiveness as the enigmatic trio guides him through his grief and deep depression.
The Shack Official Trailer
Is The Shack Worth Watching?
As I mentioned above, faith based movies are not my usual choice, but despite this, I was pleasantly surprised.
The Shack is well cast with Sam Worthington very believable as a man consumed by his guilt and grief. His meeting with God challenges all of his preconceptions, not least because Papa on his journey is an African American woman who he met as a child.
There are a lot of questions, deep conversations, and a profound sense of love and understanding in The Shack. It oozes an undeniably worthy message that spirituality and faith can get you through the worst moments of your life.
However, The Shack isn't perfect. There is a lot of heavy handed sermonizing from the Holy Trinity and quite a few melodramatic clichés about judgement and forgiveness.
It's interesting as a film concept and easy to watch, even if it is a little too long on the run time.
And no doubt by the end of the film, through his meeting with Papa, Mack finds important truths to help him live a more fulfilling life, I'm just not sure that I did.
Is The Shack Movie Based On A True Story
No, The Shack is not based on a true story. It is based on the novel by Canadian author William P. Young that was self-published in 2007.
He originally only write the book for his children, but after friends read it, he decided to publish it.
Young has since explained that The Shack “is a metaphor for the places you get stuck, you get hurt, you get damaged…where shame or hurt is centred.”
The Shack Movie Cast
Sam Worthington as Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips, a man lost in grief who receives a mysterious invitation to meet God.
Octavia Spencer (Truth Be Told) as God (Papa)
Graham Greene as Male Papa
Radha Mitchell as Nan Phillips, Mack's wife
Aviv Alush as Jesus Christ
Sumire Matsubara as Holy Spirit (Sarayu)
Tim McGraw as Willie, Mack's neighbour and friend
Alice Braga as Sophia as Wisdom
Megan Charpentier as Kate Phillips, who causes a canoe accident that sets the whole chain of events off.
Gage Munroe as Josh Phillips, Mack's son
Amélie Eve as Missy Phillips, Mack's missing daughter
Ryan Robbins as Emil Ducette, camping trip friend
Carson Reaume as Young Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips