Coffee Shop [2014] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Donovan has always loved her dream job as the owner of a local coffee shop, but she fears that her mortgage is about to cause her dream to end prematurely.  What’s worse is a hotshot playwright comes to town and starts off completely on the wrong foot with her, all the while Donovan’s sister is trying to get her to run back to the boyfriend who left Donovan for a big time Chicago job.  Will Donovan be able to sort out all the confusion in time to save her dreams?

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Up Entertainment has perfected the Hallmark model of putting out a consistent amount of films with fairly professional production quality in each one.  Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all what they should be.  The soundtrack is a bit too generic, however, which fits this genre to a T.  What also typically comes with this sort of made for television movie is relatively good sets, locations, and props, yet some minor editing issues that plague it, all in the name of making the runtime trim.  All of these typical elements are present in Coffee Shop, making it seem like it was made on an assembly line.  Overall, though the production is great, there are plenty of other predictable elements to point.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though this story is trying a bit harder than most made for TV romantic comedies, Coffee Shop is still an extremely typical story about a jilted girlfriend who has to save her ______ and then both her old boyfriend and a new well-groomed man whom she doesn’t like at first but grows to like show up in the small town she lives in with other quirky characters.  Though some of the characters demonstrate attempts to be creative, probably mostly the influence of the Erwin brothers, there are just too many predictable elements for this section to warrant any more points.  The entire plot follows a predictable progression and the end can be seen from the beginning.  In the end, it’s hard to see the justification for yet another one of these sorts of films.

Acting Quality (3 points)

Despite all of other issues, the Erwin brothers still do their thing and win out when it comes to casting and acting coaching.  There are virtually no errors in this section as line delivery is on point and emotions are very natural.  UP and Hallmark should consider hiring the Erwins as permanent casting help.

Conclusion

We realize the machine of cable television demands certain movies that fit into certain molds, so perhaps there is really no solution to this problem until cable is no longer relied upon as a source of entertainment revenue.  Creative Christian film makers need a better outlet for their films so that they can showcase their talent outside of the confines of a revenue-seeking machine.  Perhaps one day we will see more of these sorts of films on streaming services such as PureFlix.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

 

Awakened [2011] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Jacob Harker loses his job as a newspaper reporter, he and his wife Haley are forced to move to a small rental house so they can regroup.  While Jacob looks for a new job, he becomes fascinated with some of the belongings left in the rental house’s basement, especially a strange record player that contains hypnotic recordings of a singer that draw Jacob in.  The more time Jacob spends with the recordings, the more he and Haley are attacked by an evil spirit.  Who will prevail in the end?  Will they ever escape the clutches of evil that are hidden in the recordings?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

Making a horror movie is not an excuse to cut corners on production.  Awakened doesn’t even attempt to use the found footage crutch; it’s just one bad production.  While video quality if fine, basically only one set is utilized in the entire film, and with it comes poor lighting and unprofessional camera work.  Audio quality is also below standard, including overdubs and an almost non-existent soundtrack.  Editing is very much lacking as the runtime is very linear.  Unfortunately, there is not really much positive to highlight here; this is just another example of a lazy production effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Horror is already a very difficult genre to pull off.  Adding in typical cheesy Christian movie elements is not a winning combination.  First of all, why do we care about this obscure collection of recordings from an unknown artist?  Second of all, is this plot actually supposed to be scary?  Most of the time it seems like it’s trying to suggest horror elements without actually going all the way.  Hardly anything happens in this lame story as the clueless characters mindlessly sit around and do random things.  The premise and the coincidences therein are so trivial that this movie is more unintentional comedy than horror.  As the story goes on, things get more and more bizarre and thus are likely isolate most Christian audiences.  It’s one thing to go after a niche audience and it’s another to make people roll their eyes at another sloppy effort.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Though this cast is tiny, they are actually the bright spot of the film as they make the most of the little help they are given.  There are not really any glaring errors to point out here as they are mostly professional.  Some emotions seem overdone, but on the whole, this is a surprisingly respectable acting and casting job.

Conclusion

There is definitely a place for Christian horror films in the field, but this is definitely not the way to make one.  Whenever you deal with spiritual matters, especially the demonic, it’s not to be taken lightly.  Horror can be used to reach people outside of typical Christian entertainment circles, but only when it’s done with purpose, prayer, and redemption.  Willy-nilly nonsense like Awakened isn’t going to cut it.  Stuff like this only produces more laughs at the expense of Christian entertainment’s already-flimsy reputation.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points