‘Nefarious’ Sets a New Standard for the Right’s Culture War

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I attended the world premiere of Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon’s “Nefarious” earlier this week. I’m glad I went in with a clean slate. I knew the film was based on Steve Deace’s bestseller, A Nefarious Plot, a humorous take on how the world’s divisions have been manipulated by a much higher—or, rather, lower power. But the trailer for the film was dark.

The film’s plot seems simple enough: a psychiatrist has been assigned to determine whether or not a death row inmate, who claims to be inhabited by a demon, is insane. The majority of the action unfolds in a single, empty room. But the writing, acting, and directing were so gripping that the movie immediately grabbed my attention and kept me glued to the screen.

The inmate, played by Sean Patrick Flannery, sits across from the psychiatrist, played by Jordan Belfi, for over an hour of the film, jabbing back and forth about how the devil had basically accomplished all of his goals in the world, in a dark, twisted, yet perfectly mundane way, and no one ever even bothered to try to stop him. With passionate performances and a script that keeps things moving from ominous to humorous to absolutely intense, the filmmakers perfectly illuminated a Christian message with real life and real drama—something that I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.

We’ve all seen our share of Christian and religious films. They typically revolve around a family who has a lost soul or two, who come around after some type of bland, Hallmark Channel-style of drama. If it’s a more political film, we’ve also seen our share of patriotic docudramas where liberalism has brought us to the brink of destruction. We get it. It’s formulaic and played out. And preaching to the choir doesn’t move the needle in a culture war.  

“Nefarious” sets a new standard of “conservative” filmmaking—one that leads with a unique, high-quality, entertaining plot and production, but not patronizing or pandering. You don’t know what to expect.

I’m at a loss as to why more right-leaning filmmakers haven’t taken the “Nefarious” team’s approach. I hope they watch it and take copious notes. Without spoiling the plot, this might be the first time I’ve ever seen pro-life messaging in a film that doesn’t rehash the same obvious statements we’ve all heard before. The message in “Nefarious” is moving and powerful, leaving viewers to contemplate their own morality and sinfulness beyond what the film portrays on screen.

This is a groundbreaking film because it’s a normal film that happens to have a deeply Christian and “conservative” message. Much like the Oakland A’s played “Moneyball” in 2001, Konzelman and Solomon maximized a small budget in the most meaningful ways, combining a great script, first-rate actors, and a sparse setting at just the right time to drop this epic thriller.

Yes, this “conservative” and Christian film is rated “R” for what the Motion Picture Association says is “some disturbing violent content,” so don’t take the kids. But it would make for a great date night.

If you’re tired of the Right constantly losing the culture war, especially at the box office, “Nefarious” is a must-see. A new brand of conservative film is here, and for the first time in a long time, it gives many a reason to go to the movie theater.

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About Tim Young

Tim Young is the media and culture critic for American Greatness.

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