Sam (Ry Barrett) wakes up to find himself in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. No one knows each other. No one knows how they got there. They unite in an attempt to find a way out, but eventually split up to cover more ground. Along the way, each person is both tested and tormented by their past.
In certain ways, Kingdom Come reminded me of both the original Saw and a couple of attempts I've seen at creating what could only be classified as Christian horror including one film that outright called itself Christian horror. While the original Saw worked, the laughably bad attempts at Christian horror most definitely did not.
Neither does Kingdom Come, though to be fair this is most certainly not Christian or Catholic horror.
These characters, if you haven't guessed already, are in purgatory. The characters, at least some of them, aren't exactly likable and, in fact, it seems that by nearly anyone's religious values they'd be hard-pressed to qualify for purgatory. Kingdom Come gives us a child molester, a rapist, and other unsavory folks whose presence in the film isn't even debated. They are what they are. I'm not sure if co-writer/director Greg Sager is making some theological statement about universalism, but my gut feeling is he isn't.
The script for Kingdom Come, credited to a trio of writers including Sager, was for me the film's weakest point even considering I respect the direction that Sager took everything. It just didn't work as well for me. Part of that, I suppose, is because there's a certain chaotic nature to the tests, the layers of testing, and which characters test each other that doesn't so much give the film an unpredictability as it does give the film an inconsistency. There was a part of me that wondered if certain aspects of the story had been edited out.
The performances are hit-and-miss. It was a delight seeing Katie Uhlmann, whom I'd seen previously in Cody Campanale's Teach'er short film, and she's equally good here. Jason Martorino, as Daniel, essentially the master of this entire affair, is also one of the film's strongest characters and contained within one of the film's most cohesive and effective scenes. While one might argue that Martorino goes over the top, my sense was that he was one of the few performers who had a firm grasp on what Sager was actually aiming for with the film.
Kingdom Come has too many points where it gets bogged down in dialogue and gets convoluted from a lack of thematic clarity, but one must give kudos to Sager for an ending that finished everything off with a bang and felt right. It was a sure sign that Sager had a strong vision for the film, his second feature, and I look forward to checking out his work in the future.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic