I had the chance to preview "The Remaining." It is a pre-tribish take on the return of Christ in a modern setting. Actually, the action starts at a wedding and once it starts it is non-stop.
It has the production values of a "real" Hollywood movie (good acting, special effects, etc) and the urgency of an Old Scofield, King James only evangelist. Think "Thief in the Night" meets "Cloverfield."
I remember when I watched "The Thief in the Night" as a kid and it scared the crud out of me. The production values were horrible. The acting was cringe-worthy. But it accomplished it's job...I left motivated to share my faith.
The Remaining has the same sense of end-times urgency but it is delivered in a high quality way.
Now the real question is this...should you take your youth group to this movie? Before you make your decision here are some things to consider:
1. This movie is scary.
The Remaining will make you jump in a few places and could give some of your more sensitive teenagers a few nightmares. But reading the book of Revelation (in some sections anyway) will do the same thing. There are certain subjects that are scary and the end-of-times, open-the-seven-seals, pour-out-the-cup-o-wrath stuff of the apocalyptic books of Scripture is one of them. This is a movie that is scary and should be scary.
Should we refrain from using scare tactics when it comes to reaching teenagers for Jesus? I guess the best way to answer that is this, we should only use the "scare tactics" that Scripture does. Yes, the Bible is full of positive motivations to believe in Jesus (heaven, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, hope, etc) but also full of negative motivations to believe (avoiding hell, end-times stuff, etc.)
This movie will give your teenagers plenty of negative motivations to say "yes" to Jesus. It will also motivate your Christian teenagers to get their friends to say believe in Jesus as well.
2. The movie is theologically iffy.
Whether you are a pre-trib (like me), post-trib, mid-trig, no-trib or "pan-trib" (it will all pan out in the end) you will find stuff in this movie that will grate against your eschatological biases. In this movie there was a rapture (pre-trib cheers) but the bodies of the believers didn't get raptured, just their spirits (pre-trib boos!) There were scorpion-esque demons that flew and attacked (like in the book of Revelation) but could kill you, not just sting you (unlike in the book of Revelation.)
But if you are going to Hollywood to build your theological system then you have a bigger problem than stinging scorpions.
What this movie got right is that Jesus is coming back, it's gonna be scary for those who are left behind and we have an urgency to believe in Jesus and get others to do the same.
Also the "gospel" that is given is pretty generic. It is more "believe in God" than "put your faith in Jesus because he died on the cross to rescue you from your sins." Having said that I am convinced that this movie can open the door to a deeper conversation about the full gospel message with your teenagers.
3. You will need time to meet with your teenagers afterwards.
When my 13 year old son and I watched the pre-screening of this movie together it led to a lot of conversation about the end times. We talked about the rapture, who will go through the tribulation, what happens when people die without Jesus and the urgency of evangelism. Your teenagers will want to talk more about end-times stuff after seeing this movie too.
With all this in mind, would I encourage you to take your teenagers to this movie? Yes, with these qualifications:
-Watch the movie yourself first. You have to make your own decision based on your theological convictions, teenagers and church context.
-Forewarn the parents. Some parents may not want their teenagers to engage in this kind of movie so I would let them know beforehand that it is intense and scary. Maybe even send them the link to this blog or another Christian review of the movie.
-Use this movie as an outreach. Some Christian movies are cringe-worthy because of the lack of production values. This one is not. Your teens can confidently invite their unreached friends to this well-made and entertaining movie. But afterward I would carve out at least an hour or so of Q & A back at the church or in a local coffee shop. Here I would have a Bible and do my best to answer students' questions about end times. Believe me, they will have them. Of course I would give a clear and complete gospel explanation and give them an opportunity to respond. I would also challenge the Christian teenagers to share their faith because of the urgency of Jesus' return.
-Springboard into a series on the end-times if possible. If I was a youth leader I'd do a three week series on the end-times after the movie. Even if it's just reading parts of the book of Revelation and then talking about it, teenagers are interested in end-times. This subject, like few others, can motivate teenagers to live and share their faith.
Anyway, I hope you've found my "review" of The Remaining helpful.