While sitting at a bar and drinking alone, Kevin (Kristoffer Polaha) meets his true love, Molly (Elizabeth Tabish). Instantly, Kevin is smitten by her to the point he is willing to make significant changes in his life, such as taking a deeper step into church and faith. As time passes, the pair get married; however, their family suffers tragedy and loss.
One day, Kevin is involved in a horrifying car accident. He wakes up in a different world, which somehow still feels familiar. Soon, Kevin meets a stranger who calls himself ‘The Benefactor’ (Neal McDonough). ‘The Benefactor’ sits with Kevin and explains that Kevin has been separated from Molly and is now in a new reality. Kevin has been “shifted” into a world where he made a different decision in the past. Now he is forced to live a completely different life in a different world while holding on with determination and seeking God’s help to try and get back home.
The Shift is a full-length feature of a short movie by the same director, Brock Heasley. Combining sci-fi and drama, it tells the story of a frustrated man’s world being turned upside down by Satan, aka ‘The Benefactor’. Within the first act alone, it’s also evident that the film retells the book of Job from the Bible. The sci-fi aspect is pleasing, and it’s apparent that other classic cult films have inspired The Shift and the world that Kevin finds himself in. While the Sci-fi aspects are pleasing, the dramatic elements are not always believable. This includes the first time Kevin meets Molly and the drama their family suffers.
There is no doubt that actor Neal McDonough steals the show. Not only is the actor giving a great performance as ‘The Benefactor’, but the film is most engaging and exciting whenever his character appears. Watching ‘The Benefactor’ continually taunt Kevin, hoping he’ll give up on God and accept his new fate is fun. Kristoffer Polaha as Kevin is fine, and it’s evident the actor is attempting to give a genuine, heartfelt performance. However, the other actors, including Sean Astin as Gabriel, are wasted here and forgettable and uninteresting.
Overall, The Shift tackles a different kind of concept, premise, and storyline, which has appeal given all the current pop culture surrounding multiverses. Like all films released by Angel Studio, there’s a heartfelt storyline and strong message regardless of one’s faith. The sci-fi aspects and the concept of being instantly ‘shifted’ to other realities is also fun. Neal McDonough delivers a great performance as ‘The Benefactor’, aka the Devil, and watching the film for him alone is entirely worth it. Sadly, Sean Astin feels wasted and a missed opportunity, and while elements surrounding sci-fi aspects are enjoyable, the on-screen drama struggles to create an impactful message.
The Shift (2023) is Available in Australian Cineams from TBA.