Yesterday I watched two extremely disturbing movies, Open Water 2: Adrift and Jesus Camp. One was infinitely more troubling than the other.
Open Water 2 is a sequel only in that it uses the same premise as the first which is simply and completely this: people stranded in the water at sea. Horrible, of course, but this one tries to up the ante by plopping the bobbing humans into the drink right next to a yacht that they cannot climb back onto. Whoops, forgot to put the ladder down! Panic ensues. People die. But wait there’s more. Did I mention that there is a baby who’s been left on board the boat? And a monitor on deck that faithfully transmits her hungry, neglected wailing to the stranded floaters (including her parents) boatside? Sound awful? It is. Most movies of this ilk ask for a generous suspension of disbelief, but Open Water 2’s premise manages to be completely unbelievable yet still disturbing. I don’t recommend this movie if you are a poor swimmer, afraid of the water or being alone, a parent, or if you’ve ever been a child.
But the stomach-churn caused by Adrift pales in comparison to Jesus Camp, last year’s documentary about an evangelical summer camp for young Christians. I actually had to turn away a few times. Simply couldn’t watch as little kids trembled and cried and threw themselves to the ground for God. The adult organizers of this camp are truly scary as they prompt the kids into ever more ridiculous shows of their faith. The implicit — and a few times stated — impulse is that if the Muslim world is creating armies of mindless devotees in madrasas then Christianity best do it too. What’s so troubling is how mature these little kids act. Like they are reading from a script. There’s absolutely no shred of free-thinking or even childishness. And that’s the great shame: to be raised in an environment of such unquestioning dogma that the wonder and curiosity of childhood is not even an option.
I’d rather be the kid trapped on the boat, frankly.
Watching movies like this is like taking the sniff when someone asks you to smell their shoe. You know its going to be disturbing; yet you do it anyway…