If Octavia Spencer is God, then Lord, take me to church.
It's one of those movies where you'll either decide to give in right away and sob for two hours straight or opt to fight it while your resentment slowly simmers to a rolling boil.
Based on the sleeper bestseller by Canadian author William P. Young, The Shack offers an enlightening - if dispiriting - vantage on contemporary, non-denominational Christianity.
The Shack wants to be a sincere exploration of faith and forgiveness but somehow manages to be both too innocuous and too off-putting for its own good.
"The Shack" is a grief-packed journey through loss, bargaining and acceptance that feels like an overly long church sermon.
Most of its running time is taken with mollifying conversations between Mack and the movie's New Age-meets-Bible Belt oversimplifications of the Holy Trinity. It fits right into a long tradition of quasi-mystical pseudo-parables.
When Worthington and his wacky trio are allowed to loosen up, The Shack radiates with undeniable sweetness, but the darker elements grind it to an unnerving halt.
Inspirational books are one thing, inspirational films are another. Readers conjure up worlds of their own, filmgoers are stuck with what's on the screen.
Even its jolts of surrealism feel curiously stilted; what it needed was a director whose reverence would be tempered by a healthy sense of the ludicrous, an ability to tap into and draw out the material's stranger undercurrents.