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The Sympathetic Doomsday Cult Leader
Chris Nelson in 'As It Is In Heaven'

Alissa's note: this interview was originally published in July 2014, but the film is available starting today on VOD, so I'm republishing the interview. You can find out more here.

A week ago, I saw As It Is In Heaven, a low-budget, Kickstarter-funded, gracefully-shot independent feature film about a doomsday cult somewhere in the American South.

I was pleased with what I saw. Others were, too: the film earned positive reviews at RogerEbert.com, The Hollywood Reporter, and The New York Times, where it was named a Critics' Pick.

Most of us have never been the leader of a doomsday cult, I presume (I haven't), and we generally don't hear their stories, instead believing that such a person is a megalomaniac, mentally unstable, or just plain evil. David, the leader at the center of this film, is certainly some—if not all—of those things. But there's something more to him: a deep desire to live the right life, to find meaning in the world and even, after a fashion, to serve God as best he can. David is not a good leader, but he is a true believer.

Not only is the story suspenseful and engaging, but it acts like a mirror: these characters have characteristics and wants and motivations that find their reflection in us. And so while you may never have thought about joining a doomsday cult, you might discover that you see yourself up there on the screen.

After all, who among us—even the most faithful believers—hasn't wondered, while praying, if anyone was listening?

As It Is In Heaven was directed by Joshua Overbay, who cowrote the script with his wife, Ginny Lee Overbay, and shot the film near where he was living in Kentucky, where he was teaching at Asbury College (he's ...

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Watch This Way
How we watch matters at least as much as what we watch. TV and movies are more than entertainment: they teach us how to live and how to love one another, for better or worse. And they both mirror and shape our culture.
Alissa Wilkinson
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.
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The Sympathetic Doomsday Cult Leader
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