Immanence (2022)

Some films just get it all so muddled up.

Now, I’ll admit I’m stretching things a bit including this film, although it has been identified as science fiction by a few sources.  And, yes, it definitely starts out as science fiction, with a meteorite dropping into the Caribbean and emitting a mysterious signal.

It looks like a first contact situation, particularly as the object’s path suggests it came from another Galaxy, so, naturally, SETI sends out a team of scientists to find out what’s going on before anyone else can put a claim on the object.

…But did I mention that it landed in the Bermuda Triangle?

I suppose you could compare it to The Dark Side of the Moon (1990), or perhaps to the 1975 TV movie Satan’s Triangle, which both share Immanence‘s take on the Triangle.

Now, the basic story you can mostly guess from the tagline (“The Search for God is an Open Door to the Devil”), as there is a Pentecostalist snake handler, Jonah, crewing the boat who believes that the message is really from the devil.  This naturally leads to some very inept debates about belief and science which seem to have very little understanding of either.  In fact, I find it curious that they are not discussing “faith” rather than “belief”, which clearly has more bearing on any debates between faith and science.  After all, few scientists have made any concerted effort to verify basic scientific truths, but instead have chosen to believe what they’ve learned.

Which, ironically, is how we know most of what we know.  It pretty much has to be as few of us have the means, opportunity, time or expertise to verify everything we believe.  A firm foundation of underlying beliefs is necessary, if we are going to be able to function in the real world.

Faith is a far more complex subject, one which is rarely understood these days by those who reject it — and far too often, by those who defend it.  And we do have, whether they are using the right word or not, one of these classic examples of “faith” used in these sort of debates on display here as Jonah is a member of one of those tiny charismatic groups which use one of the verses in Mark’s Gospel to justify public acts of snake handling in the firm belief that God will keep them safe — over and over again, every Sunday (oddly, the question of whether or not this is a form of presumption is actually raised during the film).

Now I need to point out that this is a pretty extreme sort of idea of faith, and one outside the tradition found in the older Christian churches.  I might be tempted to think this film was made by a Pentecostalist — if it weren’t for that curious use of the word “belief” which I can’t make sense of no how.

Not that I’m exactly surprised by such oddities when watching a movie.  I’ve seen far worse.

Just to make this more confusing, a woman we are told is a Presbyterian — it’s even suggested that she is a somewhat fanatic one — prays kneeling in front of a crucifix with a figure of a suffering Christ crowned in bloody thorns.

And it sure looks like she’s praying the rosary.

That is one strange Presbyterian.

We do get some interesting and intelligent insights into the question of what happens when people stop believing in God, but then at the end it turns into another sort of movie altogether, with questions of fate and time paradoxes…

None of which really makes any sense in context.

Nor does that final image of what’s on their scanner, for that matter.

Now, I’ll admit there are a lot of scary moments here, and the film looks quite good, despite being shot in tiny spaces aboard a fairly small boat.

But in the end I can’t really tell you what it is: a routine horror film? a Christian-themed “alien” contact story? a somewhat inept attempt at a religious horror film?

Who knows.

Oh, well, it is entertaining in a modest way.  Just don’t expect much in the way of an intelligent attempt to write about faith, God, and…

Well, I’ll let you figure that last one out…



Check out our new Feature (Updated February 16, 2022):

The Rivets Zone:  The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!




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