a white man runs down a dimly lit green and wood hallway
The Shift Credit: R&CPMK

Brock Heasley’s The Shift is a remarkably incoherent farrago of sci-fi tropes and Christian proselytizing. The guy at the center of the mess is Kevin (Kristoffer Polaha), a hedge fund asshole whose job is torched in the 2008 financial crisis. Shortly thereafter, he meets his soulmate Molly (Elizabeth Tabish)—and then sometime after that, he’s transported to another dimension by the Benefactor aka Satan (Neal McDonough), who wants him to work as an evil dimension-hopping minion. Kevin refuses, trapping himself in a dystopian hellscape where Christianity is illegal.

The remainder of the film slogs ahead in a manner that is both nonsensically erratic and completely predictable, with a heavy-handed voiceover inadequately trying to pull the narrative together and create some vague dramatic tension. Kevin is pumped up with a treacly tragic backstory and allegorical comparisons to Job as he searches through the dimensions for Molly and God, not necessarily in that order. The Benefactor tries to get our hero to make the Bad and Selfish Choice, but he’s too noble for that. Hallelujah.

The emotional core of the film is white Christian self-pity. Wealthy white guy Kevin is torn from his family and hunted by police; the nightmare is that good Christian men of power will suffer the same fate that they’ve so often visited on marginalized people. The whole movie can be seen as a kind of psychotic break—Kevin is fired from his high-powered job and, unable to cope with his complicity in financial devastation or with his loss of status, imagines he is the most important person in the multiverse, the one righteous man defying the devil. The shift—the evil wrongness—is a world in which Kevin is not on top. The Godly intervention is the restoration of the hierarchy, which is also the Hollywood default. 

In this case, this default is revealingly ramshackle and unappealing, stripped of any remnants of leading-man charm or directorial elan. You rarely see the mechanism of status quo apologia so nakedly. It’s miraculous, in its way. I still wouldn’t recommend seeing it. PG-13, 115 min.

Wide release in theaters

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