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Movie review: 'Hellbound' documentary could've cast a wider net

Posted 4:34pm on Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012

Unrated; 85 min.

Kevin Miller's thoughtful, well-made documentary Hellbound asks if there's a hell and, if so, whom might we find there. It's a topic that has long bedeviled mankind and Miller surveys a wide variety of Christian observers -- from liberal theologians to the more fundamentalist and evangelical -- who often provide provocative and contradictory views about what might be awaiting some of us.

But this is also the film's greatest weakness. Though Jewish and Muslim views on hell are referenced (and one atheist and an Eastern Orthodox priest are included in the talking heads), Miller mostly keeps the discussion within the confines of contemporary Protestant Christianity and the fight between those who believe in eternal damnation and those who believe that even those in hell can ultimately be saved.

Miller does show off a sense of humor (chatting with members of death metal bands like Deicide and Morbid Angel) and a laid-back but penetrating interview style (confronting members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church).

Still, as it stands, Hellbound will probably find favor mostly with a Christian-film audience when, if he had cast a wider net, it might have had a broader appeal.

Exclusive: AMC Grapevine 30

-- Cary Darling

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