Escape from Hell, Part 3
Well, Eric is dealing with the death of his abandoning, manipulative, newly-Christian father as well as might be expected.
He is having horrible nightmares.
THANKS A LOT, Hospital Reverend, for dispensing your Hell-talk wherever you go.
Nightmare-Dad manages to lay a guilt-trip on Eric, even from beyond the grave:
“Oh no! Eric! Why didn’t you forgive me?! Now I’m burning, forever burning!”
So, that’s nice.
This is your dad.
This is your dad in Hell. Any questions?
It’s a pretty sucky nightmare, and Eric wakes up in a sweat and has to run to the bathroom to throw up.
(A common reaction to Christian films.)
As to the substance of the nightmare, I can only assume that it is meant to portray Eric’s ignorance about Hell—the idea being that he is misunderstanding the nature of Christian forgiveness. Dad is in Heaven because he got Jesus’s forgiveness; his son’s forgiveness has nothing to do with anything. (Shocker.)
Regardless, Eric’s existential crisis leads him right back to Marissa’s office, where he seeks reassurance that everyone goes to a peaceful place when they die.
Marissa is forced to disabuse him of this notion. (By the way, Marissa seems a bit cool to Eric in this scene. I’m tempted to interpret that as her being miffed that Eric has started expressing a lot more interest in her work than in her.)
She shows Eric another video, this time of a cute blonde woman who almost drowned. Unlike the blind woman, Blondie didn’t see any skinny angels:
“Then I started to feel like I was burning. And I was so scared. I said, ‘God, please help me, please, please.’ But [malevolent beings] just kept laughing at me, telling me that, ‘There’s no one here to help you now.'”
So, she believes in God, but she still went to Hell.
That’s what you get, Blondie, for not being Christian ENUF.
Marissa tells Eric that she has had other “non-positive” NDE testimonials like this, and Eric’s reaction is intelligent and reasonable (and thus, of course, will prove to be OH SO VERY WRONG):
“This pretty much explains the cultural impact of afterlife pathology. Where you go after death depends on what your belief systems are in life. You create your own Heaven, or you create your own Hell.”
And Marissa COMPLETELY AGREES WITH HIM.
Wow, Tom Douten may have some competition from this duo for Most Likeable non-RTC in a Christian Work.
Eric goes for a hike. I use the word “hike” with caution, because Eric scurries through the forest as though a Jason Voorhees is chasing him.
He finally chills when he gets to a rocky outcropping overlooking a river.
For reasons best known to himself, Eric removes his watch, a bracelet of wooden beads, and his wild sunglasses that fold up ALL THE WAY, and lays them all on the ground while he contemplates his anti-depression meds.
Hilariously, Eric has only one pill bottle, in which he has squirreled away no less than five different KINDS of pills. These he considers for a moment before flinging them off the ledge into the woods, and speaking of squirrels, at least THEY will not be depressed.
Eric starts to cry. I must say that for a Christian film, which usually stick to VERY strict gender roles, we’ve seen our male hero cry a helluva lot more than any female character. I’d chalk that up to progress were it not for the fact that it is just meant to be Eric experiencing the sadness that all non-Christians feel all the time.
Except…Eric is VERY CLEARLY depressed. And on top of it all, he would probably be situationally depressed anyway, due to all the shit with his dad showing up in his life, laying guilt trips on him, then promptly dying. Medication and some good therapy really DO seem like the correct responses here, not just an altar call.
Eric floats his FANTASTIC IDEA to Marissa: induce a near-death experience, don’t just wait for one to happen. Marissa is a little bit shocked (understandably), since doing that would be INCREDIBLY unethical, but is even more upset when Eric reveals that HE means to be the guinea pig.
“…I have nothing to lose [by being the guinea pig].”
“You need to see a psychiatrist.”
“I thought I was.”
“Eric, I’m not your therapist, and I can’t do anything more for you than I already have.”
“Are you dumping me?”
“No. Terms like ‘dump’ suggest dating and we– It’s just that with everything you’ve been going through right now, the last thing you need is a relationship.”
“You’re right. *very long pause* Bad idea.”
I…kinda love this scene. It’s real, as though everyone forgot for a moment about THE MESSAGE and just let the characters tell a story. Marissa is sad and sorry to say that, but she doesn’t want to be Eric’s doctor, she wants to be his girlfriend. And Eric is hurt…obviously very hurt…but his problems are overwhelming him to such an extent that he can’t really be a boyfriend, even though he wants to…
Okay, I just clicked Actually Not That Bad.
And of course, Eric doesn’t really think it’s a bad idea. Musing that “I just needed to end the pain…I just needed to know where my father was…” he prepares for his own near-death experience.
First, he goes to his mom’s house. He pretends he’s just there to bow out of their weekly dinner because he’s too busy at work, but really he’s there to say goodbye, just in case. But Mom is wise to this:
“So, why do you have that funny look in your eye? It’s that same look that you had when you came by to tell me you were going to the Himalayas to climb Mt. McKinley or whatever it was.”
I love the look Eric gives his mom: Really, Mom, you don’t know the difference between Everest and McKinley?
Also, ERIC CLIMBED MT. EVEREST WUT???
DAMN, he just becomes cooler all the time!
Eric also slips the wooden bead bracelet onto his mother’s wrist.
Which might mean something if we knew why the bracelet is special to Eric, but we don’t.
Eric then heads back to the beginning of the film, where he sets up the boiler room so that he can make himself Mostly Dead, then be brought back be Carl before he becomes All Dead.
Next time: Eric heads to Hell.