ChristCORE Justin Ludwig

ChristCORE Justin Ludwig
ChristCORE is a simple, yet effective title for a modest but somewhat successful documentary. As suggested by said title, the film focuses on the growing phenomenon of Christian hardcore and metalcore bands in aggressive music, which has traditionally been the domain of Satan and the God-less.

Director Justin Ludwig comes at this subject from a unique perspective; he's an atheist punk who sees no place for religion in his favourite music. This is particularly important, as it establishes the film as a documentary, not a propaganda-esque piece. Well, sort of.

At times, Ludwig comes dangerously close to promoting his agenda of a religious-free hardcore scene at the expense of the story. Some of the scenes are unabashedly, openly Christian and, to the casual observer, may seem insane. However, that they were included suggests their viewing was necessary, or at least not embarrassing.

This is where ChristCORE's main strength comes from: despite initial indications of resistance and a potential agenda held by Ludwig, the film lays everything out on the table. By doing so it allows viewers to take a similar journey as the director — from a lack of knowledge regarding the phenomenon to some form of understanding. Unfortunately, the trip is a bit muddled.

Yes, "documentary" implies the film is meant to "document" something, but a narrative is often necessary to guide the story and maintain viewer interest. Instead of offering a well thought out arc, ChristCORE jumps sporadically between the two main bands covered, Messengers and Sleeping Giant, with seemingly no purpose to the switches. This could leave viewers confused as to what's going on, or even the intent of the film.

However, ChristCORE somehow keeps the viewer engrossed, despite the lack of a clear storyline, with its quality cinematography. As a documentary, the purpose of the shots is to be subtler and complement the scenes — to be a part of the film, not be the film itself. This is another strong point for ChristCORE, which features simple shots and strong audio (often with lyrical subtitles during songs) to let the pictures do the talking, so to speak.

While a wider breadth of bands covered would have improved the content, ChristCORE made do with what it had, shining a light on the story of Christian hardcore, even if the film doesn't do the best job in its telling. (Films We Like)