Stock footage wars with stock footage, while Helen and Bronson, a pair we’re supposed to believe are news anchors, pretend the footage is really connected to the start of a world war in Israel. Right when the stock footage is escalating to nuclear stock footage (I can’t mention stock footage enough), the rapture occurs, and Jesus takes all the good people to heaven, and spends a great deal of time folding their clothing. Helen and Bronson are LEFT BEHIND (hey, isn’t that another film?), and must watch Jack Van Impe religious tapes (that would be Hell on Earth). European Union President Macalusso proclaims himself God, and everyone goes along with it because, hey, that’s likely, and he quickly condemns all Christians to stock riot footage. If only the poor souls still stuck on Earth could be made into good Christians by the words of Jack Van Impe, then maybe they could save the world and… Actually, everyone is screwed no matter what. That’s just the way God likes it.
I may have found it—the worst Christian movie ever made. It is amazingly, breath-takingly, miraculously bad. It is bad on an apocalyptic scale. The bowels of Hell have nothing on this baby. It is also too easy of a target. What’s the point of developing sound arguments against the existence of God if this is what the opposition is putting out? Its weak, mentally stunted proselytizing isn’t going to convert anyone. Nor entertain anyone.
Funded by the Van Impe ministries, and produced and written by the Lalonde brothers, Apocalypse can hardly be called a movie. While I have derided the incompetency of the end-of-times thrillers, The Omega Code and Left Behind (which was also made by the Lalondes and is nearly a remake of Apocalypse), those at least qualify as movies. Bad movies, but still movies. Apocalypse is stock news footage, segments from the Jack Van Impe’s televangelism show, and home video, stitched together. The stock military footage is better than anything shot for this production, as professionals were involved when it was filmed, but even it is dragged down by the amateurish voice-over reports of the coming doom. No one in front of the camera has the slightest idea what to do; it’s no surprise that few have worked on anything else. Michael Halkusis gives the funniest performance as an Israeli general, being he’s unconvincing as an Israeli, a general, or a living human being. Sam Bornstein is a hoot as well, standing uneasily and waving. I expect a bit more from my Antichrists. But why single anyone out? They are all horrible. These are not bad actors. They aren’t actors, period.
Things are no better behind the camera, assuming the goal was to make a good looking picture. Perhaps the filmmakers really like shots that cut off sections of actors’ heads. If so, they were right on track. The sound is muffled, the sets are primitive, and the music… Oh, the music is painful. I hope you like Christian country.
Fundamentalists have latched on to end-of-times stories for years. They all have essentially the same plot, and are based very loosely on the Book of Revelations, with massive embellishments and additions to fit right-wing political views. The basics: In the very near future, a world war will break out in Israel. In the ’50s through ’80s, The Soviet Union was always the major player, but that’s usually downplayed now. The Earth is on the brink of nuclear annihilation. Then all of the good Christians—a narrow subset defined as those who strictly believe what the sect of fundies telling the story believes—are taken to heaven, leaving their clothing behind (Woohoo! Naked orgy in Heaven!). Back on Earth, a liberal European leader, head of either the U.N. or the European Union, brokers peace, usually based on his ability to supply massive amounts of food. He’s the Antichrist, the son of Satan, and with the False Prophet by his side, he takes over as global dictator and oppresses Christians. He rules for seven years before Jesus returns to defeat him. This background is claimed to be “true” prophecy, and televangelists repeat it over and over. For the books and movies, the main character is usually an atheistic reporter who spends much of his time observing world events before converting to Christianity. These stories assume that the world is filled with atheists and that Christians, today, are a persecuted minority. They also imply that liberal politics, particularly anything that involves helping people, peace, and free action, are the tools of the Devil. Apocalypse sticks close to the standard tale. There are no surprises, except how poorly it’s presented.
Now people, that is, Christian people: you’ve got The Bible to work with. It’s a troubled book, but there’s some quality writing there. You’ve got the concept of The Rapture and the rise of a cruel leader. Why can’t you make a decent movie from that? The drama is inherent in the situation. All you need is a few interesting characters and it should be a sure thing. Of course, it would require you to eliminate the constant preaching (it’s a movie, not a sermon). And it would be nice if paranoia and racism weren’t running rampant in the script. Oh well, I guess it’s never going to happen. I’ll have to settle for The Omen; it’s nearly the same story.
Apocalypse should supply plenty of laughs, but it doesn’t. When a film is this bad, it passes out of the range where even heckling it is a good time.