Carl Jackson's 'The Jesus Freak' bets on salvation in Sin City

What happens when the ‘Jesus freak’ of the group finds out they need Jesus just as badly as everyone they call themselves trying to reach? In short order, that is the premise of Carl Jackson’s “The Jesus Freak” which released to select theaters nationwide this weekend. In the film, an unguarded moment in Las Vegas brings the least likely sinner to her knees . Of all the chaos that ensues between Dallas and Las Vegas, each ending leads to a new beginning!

The unrated Christian movie, is packaged without many of the salient talking points other films of faith often lead with. Instead, the film gets down and dirty in Sin City. The film is replete with cinematic elements that exude the feel of an art piece and not a feature film. Black and white and interrogatory scene cutaways show why it’s more of an artistic conversation piece that has made its way onto the big screen. The film was originally conceived as a straight to DVD movie from Carl Jackson Motion Picture Studios but admiration of the finished product gave it a new destiny as a feature film.

I’m not a Christian filmmaker, I’m a Christian who makes films. -Carl Jackson

Jackson remains confident that his ode to classic cinematography will boost the allure of the 90 minute independent film and add depth to the plot. By putting on screen what is often left to the imagination in Christian films, Jackson is unabashed by his ‘not so Christian’ screenwriting. During this week’s screening in the Dallas suburb of Richardson, the shock and raw emotion was palpable throughout the audience as the plot unfolded. It’s no surprise that the film will challenge you, it’s the bombshell confessions that will often leave you without the right words. For those moments, Jackson lets the score do the talking, another risky move by the fearless filmmaker.

The cast is comprised of largely unknown actors. Besides Jackson and singer Crystal Cameron (starring as Kirsten), the only other notable name in the film is Dalon Collins, an original member of Kirk Franklin & The Family. Collins has kept busy by recording his own music and performing in stage plays throughout the country since his days as part of the pioneering choir. Collins was also instrumental in the collaborative effort of the movie soundtrack. For him, this film has a very personal connection, feeling a sense of accomplishment now that the film has reached theaters. The ensemble works well together and their on film synergy helps communicate the underlying message of the film.

Movie still, “The Jesus Freak”
Movie still, “The Jesus Freak”

A wedding, a separation (of sorts) and a birth are all part of the film. The biggest risk in Jackson’s screenwriting is the open end to all the stories. While there are conclusions to be drawn, there are many more questions that lead to conversations after watching the film. Jackson believes that the timing of the film’s release is no coincidence but a perfect conversation piece, reflective of the times. Whether art imitates life or vice versa, this film is perfect for viewers who want to get in touch with a real Jesus who can handle their real life and will offer them a real touch of His saving grace.

The film opened this weekend to limited showings in Dallas (Richardson), Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Indianapolis and San Francisco. For ticket info and showtimes you can visit Fandango, Regal Cinemas, ATOM Tickets or MovieTickets.com

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