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Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.

Honk for Jesus Save Your Soul
Another film short remade as a full-length feature, 2022's Honk for Jesus Save Your Soul is a dark and edgy satire centered on an ugly variation of a real story that loses its satirical edge about halfway through, becoming quite disturbing, but watchable thanks to a pair of remarkable lead performances.

Reverend Lee-Curtis Childs and his wife Trinite were the power behind a megachurch that was closed down because of the Reverend's financial and sexual misdeeds. Rev. and Mrs. Childs are trying to start over and re-open their church, but finding it difficult due to a competing megachurch and the doubts among the 25,000 congregants and Mrs. Childs, that Rev. Curtis has really changed.

Director and screenwriter Adamma Ebo has taken on some really prickly subject matter here. Rev. and Mrs. Childs' story, on the surface, seems to be a look at Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker in blackface, which is acceptable as the film begins because it begins in the form of a "mockumentary" like This is Spinal Tap where the couple are crafting the re-opening of their church in front of a documentary camera, but as the the re-opening is being threatened by another megachurch and continued repercussions of Rev. Childs' behavior, the film's mocking veneer is slowly stripped away to reveal the damage done to the Childs' marriage that the re-opening of their church can never really heal.

The film offers laughs initially, though they are nervous ones. Eventually, the laughs diminish as we watch former congregants curse out the Childs, the competing church forcing them to change the date of their reopening, and Rev. Childs having to confront his past deeds that are not as far in the past as he thought. Worst of all, we not only have to watch Rev. Childs demean his devoted wife, but never really be accountable for the actions that brought them to where they are in the first place. The sight of the Childs standing on the side of the road with a sign and a megaphone asking passing motorists to honk for Jesus were meant for grins, but just bordered on pathetic. There are a couple of scenes in the final third of the film that are extremely disturbing.

Ebo made the most of her budget, evidenced in lavish settings and costumes, but what made this movie worth sitting through were the powerhouse performances by Emmy winner Sterling K Brown (This is Us) and Rebecca Hall as Rev. and Mrs. Childs. The chemistry between the actors was simultaneously warm and fraught with incredible tension throughout, making the viewer really really like them or really really hate them, evidenced in a provocative sex scene that defies description and illustrated how broken this couple really was. It's not a pretty movie, but the stars make it worth checking out.