24 October 2013

Movie Review: "Tribulation"

Rated: PG-13 for violence
Starring: Gary Busey, Howie Mandel, and Nick Mancuso
Released: January 14, 2000 (theaters)
Synopsis: Police officer Tom (Gary Busey) and his brother Calvin (Joseph Ziegler) don't put any stock in their sister Eileen's (Margot Kidder, Superman) Christian beliefs.  When Tom gets called onto a case of a college professor abusing his wife, it leads to Tom getting into a car accident, which puts him into a coma.  During the time he is dead to the world, the Rapture occurs, and One Nation Earth president Franco Macalousso (Nick Mancuso, Under Siege) deceives and takes over the world.  Having not received the Mark--that is, 666--Tom and his brother-in-law Jason (Howie Mandel, Deal or No Deal) are immediately targeted by the O.N.E. officers, who will stop at nothing to kill anyone who rebels against them, including an underground group of Christians led by Helen Hannah (Leigh Lewis, Apocalypse) who have been interrupting Macalousso's broadcasts.  However, Tom still isn't so sure about Jesus.  Will he realize his mistake before it's too late? Will the underground Christians be able to show the world who Macalousso really is? Events foretold in Revelation are brought to life in this movie!

WARNING! The review below contains potential spoilers!

Artistic Merit

Plot: 4/5
Yes, this is the third film in a series, and you would have to watch the previous two to understand this one.  However, I found this movie to be much more gripping than the first two entries.  Even if you weren't a huge fan of Apocalypse and Revelation, things take a turn for the better the third time around.

Production Values: 5/5
As good as the first movie in the series was, it suffered a bit from a low budget.  The second one stepped things up slightly, but this one improved the series even more.  It helps that some of the actors were screen veterans, as you can see on their IMDb profiles.  This is definitely not a tremendous piece of dreck, like C Me Dance was.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 5/5
Of course Christian faith is shown in a positive light, right? The Christians in this film do not give up on their faith, even to the point of death (Revelation 2:10).  Though Tom doesn't start out the movie as a Christian, he is shown to be a smart individual who doesn't blindly give in to Macalousso.  The movie also displays how Bible verses can be misused by taking them out of context (Matthew 4:5-6), which, unfortunately, happens far too often these days.

Sexual Content: 4.5/5
Kissing is as bad as it gets.

Nudity: 5/5

Language: 5/5

Violence: 3/5
Both the good guys and bad guys kill in this movie.  Homeless people are shot (implied); a woman is beheaded (also implied); a man is choked, and later seen dead when a relative closes his non-seeing eyes; an explosion kills several people (the explosion itself is seen, but no blood or gore is seen.) Elsewhere, to get into locked houses--his own and his brothers'--Tom breaks through doors and glass, inflicting slightly bloody wounds on his own hands.  A guy jumps out of his own window to his death.

Drugs: 5/5

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 1.5/5
This may be a Christian film, but it has the feel of a survival horror movie.  The first scene is sweet, almost like one from a Lifetime telefilm, but, after that, it gets creepy.  Along with what was mentioned under "Violence," people are possessed by demons, and Macalousso himself is rather frightening.  Even an argument between a husband and wife gets a bit intense (think Fireproof).

Other: 4/5
Some viewers may have a problem with the depiction of end times events, though Biblical prophecy is difficult to interpret.

I once knew a guy who prided himself in having a collection of little-known video games, one of which was Sweet Home, which was only released in Japan, but is widely considered to be the very first "survival horror" game ever made.  Though Tribulation never gets as graphic as that game allegedly did, I couldn't help but think of survival horror as I was watching this movie.  I don't do "horror" entertainment, but I have to say that this is one of the scariest stories I've experienced since reading cult expert Bob Larson's novel Dead Air a year or two ago, which is not something I would recommend.  This definitely isn't for young kids, and it may even cause some adults to have nightmares; then again, I think that's the whole point: You don't want to be on earth when the Antichrist comes.  Tribulation is the best in the series so far, but it's also the creepiest; I wouldn't recommend watching this before going to bed.

Score: 4/5

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