Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Movie Review: "The Girl Who Believes in Miracles" (2021) with a special mention of "The Unholy" (2021)


Since my goal is to review every movie that has ever been made in which Jesus makes some sort of an appearance, I could not overlook a movie I saw a few weeks ago called The Girl Who Believes in Miracles. It's about a young girl named Sara who is taught at home and in church to have faith in God, but when one day she makes the claim that Jesus appeared to her as a man wearing a t-shirt and jeans over a lake after praying, an encounter that gives her the ability to work miracles and healings which leads to her own loss of health, few believe her except those who share the same simple faith that she does.

Overall the message of the movie is that simple faith has power and reaps rewards, even a vision of Jesus Christ Himself. Typically I would look at a movie like this as silly and dumb, but I must confess the film moved me and it did a good job in conveying its message. In a way, I think the movie is supposed to be sort of silly and dumb, in order to highlight the fact that it is faith in its simplicity that pleases Jesus. Even though the movie does show Sara going to church, it does the best it can in not making it a story within the confines of a certain denomination, but it is a typical American girl in a typical American family that lives in a typical American town where everyone lives a typical American life. The focus is meant to be on simple faith.

When Jesus makes an appearance to a crowd, he is depicted as a typical man wearing a white t-shirt and jeans, just as Sara sees him, and then He changes to His traditional appearance in western art. He doesn't speak, just slightly smiles. This was a vision meant for Sara, but it becomes one in which a crowd witnesses it as well after some of them perform an act of faith.

An underlying theme in The Girl Who Believes in Miracles is deception. The question is often asked whether these miracles are from God or not. In this film, the opposing explanation is that science can explain her miracles, and it is through the power of suggestion she is able to heal. But there is another movie called The Unholy which is also currently in theaters, both released on the same day, that explores spiritual deception a little deeper. This film is a horror film written, produced, and directed by Evan Spiliotopoulos (in his directorial debut), based on the 1983 novel Shrine by James Herbert. It explores themes of religious experience, mass hysteria, demonic possession, faith healing and Catholicism. The story is about Alice Pagett, a deaf-mute child who's cured one night when she runs to an oak tree behind St. Joseph's, her local church in Banfield, Massachusetts. She's found by reporter Gerry Fenn and, when news of her cure spreads, their village becomes ablaze with publicity. After Alice performs several "miracle" cures in front of the tree, and claims to have seen the Virgin Mary there, it starts to be treated as a Lourdes-like shrine by Catholic pilgrims. St. Joseph's priest, Father Hagan, however, senses spiritual danger. It is revealed right from the opening scene that in 1845 a witch named Mary was executed at that tree and now her evil spirit has returned to deceive the local Catholic community.

Both films explore the topic of miracles and whether or not these miracles are from God or, according to the former they can be explained by science, or according to the latter they can be performed by a demonic spirit. It's interesting these two films are in theaters at the same time, and I would highly recommend they both be seen together. I found them both thought provoking and entertaining and all around enjoyable. The first is more of a family film, but be warned the second is fairly scary though it is within the confines of a PG-13 film. The interesting conclusion in both films is that miracles are real and God is ultimately in control even when it seems like He is not.

I give the The Girl Who Believes in Miracles an 8.2 out of 10 as a Jesus film, and though Jesus does not make much of an appearance in The Unholy, the Virgin Mary gets a lot of screen time, so I give it also an 8.2 out of 10. I liked them both equally, even though some theological matters are a little troubling in both, though should be expected.