Faith-based films have always been a guilty pleasure of mine, beginning long ago when I would watch Davey and Goliath on Sunday mornings. Despite the warnings of his talking dog(?), Davey would derail trains, poison wells, burn down cities and cause grievous bodily injury to his best friends. But when it was over, Davey would experience his umpteenth spiritual epiphany and be completely forgiven for his heinous behavior. For any kid, that is a pretty sweet deal. Where can I sign up? Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. The blanket exoneration required full comprehension of a massive instructional manual that read like the literary equivalent of listening to Yoko Ono sing, plus a host of other time consuming caveats. The payoff was supposed to be when you skipped to the end, where all things Armageddon were colorfully revealed, and you could bypass all the bad stuff. The back part of the big book certainly makes for an entertaining read, and most definitely is the focus of many of the faith-based AZ indie films that I have had the opportunity to see recently. ‘New World Order’ is a faith-based film written and directed by Duane McCoy and produced by Holy Child Productions. ‘Order’ presents a mostly literal interpretation of the Book of Revelation, as the US population peacefully carries on their mundane routine, oblivious to the impending doom that awaits them. There’s peace in the Middle East and a single, sinister ruler controls the entire planet. A horrifying America now looms in the future, with rampant unemployment covering the land, constitutional freedoms whittled away to nothing, and gasoline costing over three bucks a gallon. A terrifying scenario indeed! Inhabitants now have just two choices: face certain death or accept the New World Order!
A van loaded with crying Christians roars down a dirt road. They get herded into a Resolution Center where they are met by the dastardly NWO High Official (Kevin Herrmann) who instructs two frightened young women and the rest of the huddled masses to either accept the mark of their evil master or face dire consequences. Flash back to party girl Demi Holloway (Melissa Farley) as she sits in the park highlighting her favorite passages from Revelations while winking at strange men. She hops in her car and listens to some devil music on the radio before accidentally backing into a handsome jogger (Daniel Spalding). He promises not to sue if she agrees to go out with him. Later, Demi and her gal pal Christen (Erin Runbeck) goof off in church as Demi texts her new beau. After ditching out on Deuteronomy, they all meet for burgers and fries (gasp!) while dirty Demi does her best to corrupt her prudish pal. Their wild night is ruined by bad news on TV, announcing the Rapture and the end of Twinkies.
Two years later things are just as boring, only now everyone walks around with a goofy stamp on their forehead. Demi’s mom and pop (Rob Edwards and Karen Lewsader) are about to lose their premium channels, so pop tells little Demi “your mother and I have decided to go down and get branded.” Demi warns her folks that they’re about to get the mark of the beast and not only will they repudiate their faith, they will look absolutely ridiculous. They accept satan as their new leader and bicker over what to make for dinner. As heathen honchos surround the stucco, they rat out their daughter to the bad guys, so she grabs Christen and they head for the hills, finding refuge with a Christian group chillin’ in their honeycomb hideout. The NWO is great at mind control but seem completely befuddled by technology as the résistance enjoys the Internet and freely texts each other, sharing their secret location. A Judas in the group goes on the rampage and its big burly Mark (Bill Connor) to the rescue. After some kung-fu fighting among the firs, the group is rounded up and taken to the Resolution Center where the film began. It is now a matter of taking the mark, or meeting their maker.
As with nearly all of the faith-based films I have seen so far, ‘Order’ is an entertaining and wellmade AZ indie feature boasting envious production values. ‘Order’ is superbly shot by Webb Pickersgill and combines the talents of a host of AZ indie veterans. It is difficult to single out only a few performers in a movie packed with such a professional cast. Melissa Farley is consistently convincing throughout as the hormonally imbalanced youngster with a wavering faith. Indie hunk Michael Alvarez delivers an excellent performance with his portrayal of the reptilian and rock star-esqe High Chancellor. The mega props for this film must go to Mr. Kevin Herrmann for his performance as the sinister and smooth NWO High Chancellor. Herrmann delivers every syllable with ice-cold charisma and bone-chilling charm, often speaking reams of dialog with only his eyes. Herrmann is a (guilty) pleasure to watch, as viewers hiss the villain while secretly and eagerly anticipating his return to the screen.
Minimal effort is put into most of ‘Order’s locations, leaving the post-rapture Phoenix landscape looking far too cheerful and very underwhelming. As with most faith-based films, the subject is taken so literally that it is presented as little more than a silly cinematic version of a worn out Chick Tract. The music is fun and original, sometimes offering a funky fusion of Commodores meets Amy Grant. Sound is competent, but heavy kudos have to be heaped for the groovy Barbarella-psychedela abattoir deep within the bleak and foreboding Resolution Center, where the faithful check in, but they don’t check out. “New World Order” is an excellent example of the dedication and determination the AZ film and acting community bring to the big screen. Regardless of the inspiration or motivation for the creation, it is always a blast to see a new AZ indie feature hit the theaters, and an excellent opportunity to experience the versatility and creativity of Arizona independent film.
Final Take – One New World with an Order of fries.