THE SHIFT (2023). Review by Steve Kirkham

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THE SHIFT (2023)

3 stars
Kaleidoscope Entertainment. Digital 25th March. Blu Ray and DVD 1st April
It starts intriguingly as a man, who we later learn is Kevin, pulling himself from out of a lake – he is injured and as he walks away he disappears… all will become clear eventually.
Following the titles we see the self same Kevin (Kristoffer Polaha – who appears to be a favourite in Hallmark style movies) at a hotel bar, drowning his sorrows, as he has just lost his job at a big financial firm that has crashed. He has lost almost everything – but then he meets Molly (Elizabeth Tabish) and they hit it off. She describes to him how their life together might play out (bit forward if you ask me)… and he is immediately smitten.
In between certain scenes, the film intercuts quotes – which are from the Bible (I had to look them up, being the heathen that I am). Our first clue that what we are watching isn’t all it seems.
It jumps forward to when they are married (at least I think that’s what is going on as some of this is a bit jumbled). They have a son but are struggling financially, but still have a strong relationship.
Kevin is then in a serious car accident. Recovering from the incident he meets someone who calls themselves The Benefactor (Neal McDonough). “I am here to help you”, the mysterious stranger declares. “I want to offer you job”. Because the first thing you think after being banged up in a crash is your career prospects! He proposes that he become one of his “shifters” – and he doesn’t mean driving a removals van. These are people who can move other folks from one reality to another – it becomes clear that this is what has happened to our protagonist as The Benefactor has brought him to an alternate universe.
Placing his faith in God (another clue as to what we are really watching) he refuses to go along with his increasingly angry captor, who is obviously actually Satan himself. Unfortunately for Kevin he now finds himself trapped in a dystopian world, without his wife and child and he spends the rest of the movie trying desperately to get back to them.
Whilst this is initially interesting, and the idea of an external force being able to play with people’s lives, moving them between various different existences, is clever and well presented here, as the film unfolds you begin to realise quite early on that this is no straightforward sci-fi thriller, but is instead a faith based movie – it’s an adaptation of the story of Job dressed up in science fiction clothes.
I guess the first clue that I was watching a religious film was the fact it was made by Angel Studios – who had a surprise box office hit last year, in the US at least, with SOUND OF FREEDOM starring Jim Caviezel.
With the previously mentioned Bible quotes peppered throughout, the Christian angle becomes more obvious and explicit as things progress. I suppose you could just read it as a mystery/thriller and take no notice of the overlay of religion – but it is fairly hard to ignore! The biggest asset here is McDonough, who really gets his teeth into his role as the devilish antagonist.
This is an expansion by writer/director Brock Heasley of his 2017 short of the same name.
Steve Kirkham

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