DVD Review - Missionary
Dawn Olivieri (House of Lies) stars as Katherine Kingsmen, a single mom in Georgia who is struggling to pay bills and raise her prepubescent son Kelsey, played by Connor Christie (Army Wives) who is trying out for football. Katherine works at Sarge's Salvage, a car junkyard for scrap metal, run by Sarge Powell, played by J. LaRose. Katherine is a tough cookie, but she doesn't know anything about football and is inadequate to help Kelsey practice before his try-out.
Mitch Ryan (One Tree Hill) co-stars as Kevin Brock, a Mormon missionary who does know a lot about football. When Kevin and his Mormon companion Elder Whitehall approaches Katherine and Kelsey, he offers to show Kelsey some football moves after Katherine initially turns down any of their attempts to proselytize. Elder Whitehall sees the sport as a way to bridge the gap.
It doesn't take long for Katherine to become attracted to Kevin. After getting mud on his clothes during football with Kelsey, Kevin undresses and Katherine catches a glimpse and likes what she sees. After seeing him behave so compassionately and selflessly, she immediately kisses him, which launches them into a secret affair. There's an interesting montage of sex juxtaposed to Katherine wistfully driving Kelsey in the rain.
Kip Pardue (Remember the Titans and Ray Donovan) plays Ian Kingsmen, the father of Kelsey and the husband of Katherine who separated from her after breaking her heart. He comes back into her life and encourages her to give their marriage another go. Ian seems like a good guy who made a mistake and is sorry but clearly loves Katherine and his son, and wants to do right by them.
Writers Bruce Wood and Scott Poiley, along with director Anthony DiBlasi all worked together previously in a horror film called Cassadaga (2013). They import a lot of those same horror and thriller aspects here, but instead of ghosts or knife and chainsaw-wielding maniacs, the filmmakers add the layer of religious fanaticism.
There haven't been much in mainstream culture about Mormonism. The recent Presidential candidate Mitt Romney whose bid for the White House was charted in the Netflix documentary Mitt (2014) is probably the only recognized Mormon that people can identify. Its perception as a cult with even more bizarre myths has been the source of mocking in the works of Trey Parker and Matt Stone a la the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon. That some perception as well as the controversies surrounding polygamy has also been the source of exposing in documentaries like Sons of Perdition (2010).
The only time that an actual Mormon missionary doing the kind of door-to-door, bike riding proselytizing work seen here has been in two gay films. The first was Latter Days (2003) and the second was The Falls (2012). Both those movies never went too far into the weeds about certain aspects of Mormonism. Plays like the one by Steven Fales did.
This movie, however, takes a principle within the Mormon church and twists it, pulling things to their extremes. It might not be a commentary on Mormonism at all but merely another example of psychopathy and sociopathy that is a hallmark of horror films.
Both Olivieri and Ryan give good performances, generating a lot of heat on screen. Even though Fear wasn't highly regarded critically, I would put this movie on the same level. This film doesn't have the same erotic thrills, or the religious elements to make it wholly satisfying, but there's enough to make it a better ride than Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman in The Boy Next Door.
Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for violence, sexuality and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 30 mins.