What does God look like? It’s an eternal question with which fiction has tussled on plenty of occasions, from the standard-issue “bearded white guy clad in flowing robe” to the off-beat “wordless flower child Alanis Morisette” to the factually accurate “Morgan Freeman chilling.” The upcoming faith-based drama The Shack takes a rather unusual tack in its depiction of the Lord; the film adapted from William P. Young’s best-selling novel splits the divine presence into the Trinity, with Jesus Christ as a carpenter of Middle Eastern descent, the Holy Spirit as a meek Asian-American woman named Sarayu, and God portrayed by none other than Octavia goddamn Spencer. Let the record show — God’s real, she’s black, and she’s got an Oscar.
The first trailer for The Shack surfaced online today, and relative even to the bizarre-plot-friendly genre of dogmatically adherent Christian films, this one looks like a doozy. Acting automaton Sam Worthington plays Mack, an average Joe (or should I say, average Jehoshaphat!) that takes his darling children for a weekend out in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. His darling daughter gets tooken by a local serial killer, and the only thing that can drive Mack out of his following depressive spiral is the sweet light of the Lord.
Which, in this instance, takes the form of a mountain where it is simultaneously all four seasons. (I think? It’s kinda hard to tell what, exactly, is going on here.) There, he meets the three avatars of the Almighty and receives some valuable lessons about the sanctity of life, the greater workings of the cosmos, and whether his deceased daughter has found peace.
The film will get a wide release on March 3 of next year, at which point the devout moviegoers of America will undoubtedly propel it to a respectable performance at the box-office and ensure that more films like it shall be made in the future. This is the way of the world, how moviemaking energies get passed from one plane to the next. I know this, because God — that is, Octavia Spencer — told me.