(Warning: Spoilers. All of them)
I began this long journey down the Christian film industry’s list of films with a Pureflix film. While Pureflix wasn’t been a really significant player until the release of GOD’S NOT DEAD, I’d seen a few of their films in the past. As in “I’d seen that they had made movies.” The first one I remember was “In the Blink of an Eye.” a Rapture-focused drama/thriller that Pureflix released directly to DVD in 2009. It stars David A.R. White (who is basically in every Pureflix film), Eric Roberts (who was Falcony in THE DARK KNIGHT) and David’s wife, Andrea Logan White.
Here’s the IMDB synopsis:
After police detectives save a pop star, her manager invites them for a weekend in Mexico on his yacht. But the perfect vacation turns to terror when he wife and friends go missing.
Sound interesting enough? Well, the description forgot to mention that the film uses a Groundhog’s Day-esque “live the same day over and over until plot says otherwise” mechanic to tell its story.
Yes, That GROUNDHOG DAY.
The film is made up of three plotlines that center around David A.R. White’s character (also named David) in this film. First there’s the rapture. After his wife and friends are raptured, David has to figure out why they disappeared and why he keeps reliving the same day. Eventually, the crew claim that he caused the disappearances, and David has to “fight” to survive. The second plotline is the cop work. David’s boss (played by Roberts) discovers evidence that seems to imply that the manager may have had a connection to the pop star’s kidnapping, and David has to deal with the manager and his “criminal” team of employees on the ship. The final plotline deals with David and Lori (played by Andrea) and their marriage. Early on in the film, Lori accepts Christ and creates a point of tension with David, who is resistant to the Christian faith. Lori and David spend the rest of the time dealing with their marriage problems as well as the condition of David’s soul.
Overall, I wasn’t happy with IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE. The film was really slow, really preachy, and unbelievable at times. Almost all of the performances were boring and unrelateable (though I do think that Roberts’ police chief wasn’t bad). The film suffers from all of the problems of of your standard Christian film, from preaching too much to telling and not showing. On top of that, the film doesn’t spend any time resolving the cop work plotline.
That said, I did like that the writers tried to mix two interesting concepts together to tell an interesting story. While I don’t believe in the modern notion of The Rapture, I do think that the Rapture has the potential of being an interesting concept for a thriller. In the same way, I love how films like GROUNDHOG DAY use the “same-day” mechanic to trap a character and require them to figure out the solution to their problems. However, this film’s mashup of the two concepts doesn’t work in any way. If anything, the mashup of a Rapture storyline and a “same-day-over-and-over” mechanic minimized the potential interestingness of both concepts.
But here’s what is weird. I actually don’t think that the team behind IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE was trying to copy GROUNDHOG DAY. I believe they were drawing from a more unorthodox film; A THIEF IN THE NIGHT.
Both of these films suffer from the following symptoms; telling the plot rather than showing, one-dimensional characters, constantly giving characters the opportunity to preach to each other/the audience and unrealistically presenting the conversion experience. They also use the “same-day” mechanic, albeit to different purposes.
In A THIEF IN THE NIGHT, we find out that the female protagonist didn’t accept Jesus in time for the Rapture, which means that she has to live in a world with a one-world government that requires all citizens to take the mark (a pretty standard plot mechanic in most Christian films about the apocalypse.) However, she doesn’t want to do that, so she runs. But as she runs, the screen gets fuzzy and we discover that it was all a dream. The Rapture hasn’t happened yet…..Except that it has. While the girl may have escaped the one-world government, she didn’t save her soul in time for the Rapture.
While I do think that this particular moment in the film was poorly handled, I can’t help but recognize the creativity behind the concept. The creators pulled the rug from under its viewers in a way that they didn’t expect. They almost gave the girl the chance to save herself; except that they didn’t. It was the perfect way to scare the fear of the Lord into younger viewers.
While A THIEF IN THE NIGHT’s rug-pull was kinda creative, IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE is more formulaic. The only reason that David is allowed to live the same day over and over is so he can accept Christ a few hours before the Rapture (as well as help the pop star accept Christ as well).
Oh, and it’s so we have enough time in the day for the Christian characters to lecture us about Jesus and the Rapture.
But if God can do this for David, then why can’t he do it for, well, EVERYONE?!?!? I could see God/the plot using the “same-day” mechanic effectively if David had to do something monumental, like save thousands of lives. But why would God stick him in a time loop if he just wants him to accept Jesus? That was just poor writing.
Conclusion: IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE seems to be Pureflix’s attempt at making a 21st century version of A THIEF IN THE NIGHT. By doing so, the film is dull, the plot pacing is mediocre and it suffers from all of the standard problems of Christian films. Frankly, it’s a pretty poor attempt. It does look better than A THIEF IN THE NIGHT, but that means very little when you consider how the technology has evolved in the last 40 years. I recommend skipping this film.
IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE is currently available on Netflix and Pureflix.