After the Civil War, Emmett returned to his hometown to take care of the widow of one of his fellow troops in order to fulfill a promise he made. Emmett and his son live with the African-American widow and her daughter, which causes them extra scrutiny in the corrupt small town they live near. Emmett’s father-in-law, the local pastor, is against him, as are several other colorful characters. Everything comes to a head one day when the circus train breaks down in the forest and unwittingly releases wild beasts into the woods. The children are caught in the middle of the animal escape and a kidnapping plot aimed at hurting Emmett, and it will take wild faith to overcome to dark night before them.
Production Quality (2.5 points)
For years, DJ Perry, Shane Hagedorn, and their team have struggled with poor production quality and overly artistic attempts. However, while the artistry is still present in Wild Faith, a higher production level has finally been achieved. This is evidenced by great camera work and video quality even in the realistic and complex war scenes. There are great action shots, as well as historically authentic sets, props, and locations. Audio quality is also great, and the soundtrack is creative. The only nitpick to raise here relates to some slightly confusing editing, but this is a small issue compared to the great improvement that has been shown here. Perry and Hagedorn have proven that never giving up and working to improve pays off in the end.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
Though the beginning of this plot is a bit disorienting at first, if you stick with it, things begin to make more sense. Where the characters are a bit raw at first, they become more realistic as time progresses with the exception of the cheesy villains. Some of the dialogue is a bit vague at times, but there are also some good conversations throughout that reveal character motive, which is a rarity to find in Christian film. The overall plot structure of this film is fairly unique and creative as it effectively uses flashbacks and other psychological elements to keep things interesting. This story is a great attempt to be different rather than the typical inspirational fodder, but there are some opportunities for improvement especially in the areas of character refinement and storyline organization. Some of the dialogue is a bit obvious at times, but Wild Faith takes an honest look at corrupt small town Christianity and the pain of racism after the Civil War. Overall, this film shows a lot of potential in this team.
Acting Quality (1.5 points)
Surprisingly, the acting of this movie is also fairly good. This DJ Perry character is likely his best performance to date. Shane Hagedorn starts out a bit rough at first, but his character is a slow burn and begins to refine as it goes on. The villain cast members are fairly poor and drag down this score, and there are a few overdone emotional moments, but on the whole, this is a good acting performance that caps off a suprisingly enjoyable film.
We always look for improvement across films, and we are always glad when Christian film makers don’t give up and continue to try things. Experience is hopefully going to lead to improvement, as is listening to constructive criticism. The Perry and Hagedorn team has wandered in the film wilderness for a few years now, from Ashes of Eden to 40 Nights and Chasing the Star. To be honest, I did not have high hopes for Wild Faith when it was first sent to me, but I was pleasantly surprised. Whether or not this film becomes a series, it is clear that this creative team has a lot of potential in front of them, so it will be interesting to see what they produce next.
Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points