Director: Alan Ronald
Script: Alan Ronald
Cast: Simon Phillips, Danny Idollor Jnr, Gemma Deerfield, Alistair Rodger
Running time: 104 minutes
Jesus versus the Messiah was a film that was sent to me out of the blue to review and has been on ‘my books’ for a while. After seeing another Cine Du Monde release, namely The Devil’s Music, I was kind of put off watching any more of their releases any time soon, but I wish I’d tackled this rather interesting film sooner as it was well worth a look.
The basic premise of the film is thus: Jesus has been avoiding his responsibilities for the past two millennia, and has flatly refused being crucified for the sake of mankind, which kind of might explain why things are such a mess in the world! Over the centuries Jesus has been pursued by one of God’s minions, probably an angel. The two men/beings have been engaged in a very long-term game of hide and seek/cat and mouse, and things finally come to a head in a pub in Scotland… of course they do!
Jesus has been giving ‘Messiah’ the slip for centuries and the latter is now so pissed off that he’s willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. And while Jesus feels rather guilty about all this killing because of him, he’s still quite happy to take his chances and duck and dive out of the firing line when he can, and make a good, quick escape. That is until he meets a girl, Sally, in said bar, who helps him out, and who ends up being on the run with Jesus; although it quickly becomes apparent that this mysterious young woman might already be on the run from a more earthly type of hunter.
Jesus Vs the Messiah kind of reminded me of some of the old grindhouse films from the 70s – low production values, variable acting abilities, an unusual storyline, all thrown together in a rather haphazard fashion. First time writer/director Alan Ronald has created something that’s uniquely his own vision and, depending on whether you’re willing to ignore the film’s many shortcomings or not, will determine as to whether you should buckle up for the ride or hastily run away.
The film is pretty amateur, although Ronald has obviously studied film to some extent since he seems to have a knack for creating some quite interesting ‘classic style’ shots. Probably the main problem with the feature is the sound, which varies in quality massively; I suspect there was very little ADR done here – most of the sound appears to have been captured on location, and is all the poorer for it.
While I think the concept might have been better suited to a one off 60 minute television drama, Jesus Vs the Messiah certainly has its moments and fans of off-the-wall, bizarre, quasi-religious fantasy films should try and check it out, especially if they can pick up a copy for a couple of quid. I believe you can also see it online for free...
Fans of director Alan Ronald should perhaps check out his story segments in the two anthology films: Bordello Death Tales (2009) and Angry Nazi Zombies (2012).
Cine Du Monde are distributing Jesus versus The Messiah on DVD. Extras include a director’s commentary, which I haven’t listened to yet; a trailer with the catch line: ‘Being the son of God can be a son of a bitch!’; some deleted scenes (3 mins), which should probably have been left in; some outtakes (6 mins) – a few of which are quite amusing; and a behind the scenes documentary (35 mins) that goes into quite a bit of detail as to how the production came together and shows quite a bit of behind the scenes footage of the three cast members and five crew struggling against the Scottish elements to see Alan Ronald’s quirky vision come true.