4 Things You Should Know about The Shift, Angel Studios’ New Sci-Fi Film

Michael Foust

ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor
Published Dec 05, 2023
4 Things You Should Know about The Shift, Angel Studios’ New Sci-Fi Film

Kevin is a hard-working 40-something man who is having a very bad day. 

His boss sent him home early, dissatisfied with his work. His wife is mad at him, upset about a disagreement over bills. And now a vehicle has crashed into him in traffic, totaling his SUV and nearly killing him in the process.

Fortunately for Kevin, an individual is on the scene of the wreck to check on his health.

Unfortunately, though, that individual has ulterior motives and other-worldly powers. This person -- the "Benefactor" -- has transported Kevin to another world where goodness and kindness are rare. It's a dystopian realm where the Benefactor almost always gets his way -- and where Kevin's wife and his friends don't exist.   

"They didn't go anywhere. You did," the Benefactor says.

This Satan-like Benefactor has the power to move people -- to "shift" them -- from one world to another. Even crazier: there are multiple realities in the Benefactor's multiverse -- and multiple Kevins. 

The Benefactor offers Kevin power and fame. The catch? Kevin will never see his wife again.

What will Kevin do?

The new faith-based movie The Shift (PG-13) tells the fantastical, science-fiction story of Kevin, the Benefactor, and Kevin's wife, Molly. 

Here are four things you should know about it:  

Photo credit: ©Angel Studios; used with permission.

Angel Studios Logo, Angel Studios launches 10 new projects

1. It's the Latest Film from Angel Studios

Angel Studios is on a roll this year. It all started with the under-the-radar Bible-based film His Only Son, which surprised Hollywood by opening at No. 3 nationwide and grossing $12.4 million domestically during its run. (The movie told the story of Abraham.) Angel followed that with Sound of Freedom, which edged Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny on opening day in July for the No. 1 spot and ended its shocking run with $184 million. It was the sixth highest-grossing summer film. Then, in October, Angel released its first theatrical documentary, After Death, which opened at No. 4 and examined stories of near-death experiences.

Of course, Angel is best known as the company that launched The Chosen, the biggest crowdfunded project in TV history. Thanks to a string of theatrical hits, though, Angel is gaining a reputation as a box office force.

Photo credit: ©Angel Studios, used with permission.
The Shift movie

2. It's Inspired by the Book of Job

Before The Shift even begins, we are given a verse from Job 1:21: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall depart." Throughout the film, we see other verses from that biblical book.

The dystopian film is billed as a "modern-day retelling of the book of Job" -- a description necessary for a Christian audience to fully enjoy and understand it. But don't expect a blow-by-blow retelling of the Job story. The biblical character Job never got caught up in a laser battle. He never traveled through time. Perhaps "inspired by the book of Job" is a better descriptor.  

Still, the general themes of Job are here: Kevin, like Job, loses everything. Kevin, like Job, is tempted by Satan (the Benefactor). And Kevin, like Job, is urged by those around him to deny God. But Kevin, like Job, stays true to his belief in God. Inspired by his story, I shed a tear or two at the end.

Actress Elizabeth Tabish, who has a role, told Crosswalk the film "shows how important faith is and how important conviction is."

"It's a really fun, sci-fi, faith-based story," she said.

Photo credit: ©Angel Studios; used with permission.

The Shift movie

3. It Includes Faces and Names You Know

The poster for The Shift is filled with a few faces you'll likely recognize. Neal McDonough, known for roles in Captain America: The First Avenger and Band of Brothers, portrays the Benefactor. Kristoffer Polaha, known for his characters in Hallmark Channel titles but also Jurassic World Dominion and Wonder Woman: 1984, portrays Kevin. Tabish, who is Mary Magdalene in The Chosen -- plays Kevin's wife, Molly. Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) portrays one of Kevin's companions, while Rose Reid (Surprised by Oxford) plays a character named Tina. Two other actors from The Chosen, Jordan Walker Ross and Paras Patel, also have roles.

McDonough, a person of deep faith, said he was hesitant to portray a Satan-like figure. But then he spoke to his wife, Ruve.

"She's like, 'Okay, let's talk about it. Let's pray about it,'" he told Crosswalk. "And we talked more, and she says, 'You're probably the best villain in town, whether you like it or not. And you're probably the only guy who's that great [of a] villain who also has a phenomenal relationship with God. So you kind of have to play this character.' And I'm so grateful that she put it that way."

The Benefactor, McDonough said, is a necessary part of the story.

"You're supposed to get as close to God...and stay away from those temptations," he said.

Photo credit: ©Angel Studios; used with permission.

The Shift sci-fi movie Angel Studios

4. It Breaks New Ground in the Faith Realm

The faith-based genre has had its share of documentaries, dramas, rom-coms, and comedies in recent years, but few, if any, science fiction films. The Shift fills that gap.

Like all good sci-fi movies, The Shift requires attentiveness on the viewer's part. Like all good sci-fi flicks, you'll need to watch it multiple times to understand all the jargon. But unlike popular sci-fi films, The Shift does not include spaceships and lightsabers. The sci-fi in The Shift is more like that in The Maze Runner than Star Wars. Brock Heasley, the film's director and writer, told Crosswalk the sci-fi story is "more based in character and in big ideas" than big effects.

Perhaps that's why I enjoyed The Shift. It has its share of special effects but is more story-based -- a rarity in a movie world where CGI can distract from the plot. In The Shift, a man gets separated from his wife in a multiverse filled with multiple realities -- and then must fight for survival in a dystopian world as he searches for the truth. Every now and then, he gets a glimpse of his wife through the use of an illegal "doppelganger viewer." (Unfortunately, it doesn't allow him to communicate with her.)

All along, though, he clings to his faith in God and his love for God's Word.

It's a simple plot with a solid script and tons of nuances. It has romance. It even includes stormtrooper-like characters who strike fear into those who see them.

The three lead actors -- Polaha, McDonough, and Tabish -- are phenomenal.

The film also stays in the family-friendly realm. There's no foul language and no sexuality/sensuality (although we do see characters flirt at a bar). The violence is minimal, although thematic elements may scare young viewers (laser battles and chase scenes in dark alleys, to name a few).

The Shift is a gritty, gripping, creative movie that inspires as much as it entertains. It's another solid addition to the Angel library.

Rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements.

Entertainment rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Family-friendly rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

Photo credit: ©Angel Studios; used with permission.

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Originally published Friday, 08 December 2023.