Published Oct 25, 2012To paraphrase George Carlin, Christianity-based religion has convinced people that there's a man that lives in the sky that watches everything we do. He has a list of ten things he doesn't want us to do and in the event we do one of those nasty things, he'll assign you a one-way ticket to a fiery place where you will be tortured and suffer for eternity. Oh, it should also be mentioned that God loves everyone.
Carlin's infamous comedic monologue was onto something and that, in a nutshell, is the paradox of Kevin Miller's Hellbound?, wherein he tackles the investigation of eternal damnation relative to modern Christian scripture. The question mark in the title is a dead giveaway: many people disagree that there is actually a hell, which creates an interesting argument for and against an all-or-nothing conception of the afterlife.
Miller wades into the argument by interviewing numerous people, ranging from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church fanatics, as they carry their usual "God Hates Fags" signs while protesting in front of the 9/11 Memorial Site, to liberal theologians, fundamentalists, evangelicals and atheists. As we are presented each faith-based view, we begin to see how provocative and contradictory the reasoning truly is.
Hellbound? shows us a wide variety of Christian principles, but that's also the film's greatest weakness. While Jewish and Muslim views are referenced, the documentary centers upon the confines of modern Protestant Christianity in America. Had Miller explored other religious faiths, it would have packed an extra punch, rather than focusing upon the right-wing American religious nuts versus their opposing contemporary American counterparts.
While much of the film consists of talking heads and transparently shot scenes of the director as he converses with his subjects, it's peppered with some humorous segments, like interviews with members of metal bands such as Deicide, Gwar and Morbid Angel.
Those with an interest in theological debate will find the film of interest, while those who normally avoid religion will likely also avoid Hellbound? (Kevin Miller XI)