I actually thought this was a great documentary. The topic aside, I felt like the filmmakers, Ewing and Grady, had really done their research, and I was surprised by how extensive their interviews were. There were maybe three or four children that they focussed on and all of them were interviewed in their own environments, in a place where they obviously felt comfortable. They were all given a chance to say their piece, as was the preacher, Becky Fischner.
I have to admit, there were a few moments when I wondered if I was being manipulated into thinking and feeling a certain way. One scene springs to mind, when during a sermon, there was a wailing, somewhat melodramatic music/song happening. Just as I was thinking that it was a cheat-like of the filmmakers to add a dramatic score over a relatively dramatic shot, the camera panned left and there was a woman wailing into a microphone, which I presume is supposed to help bring the children to religious ecstacy. So that just sort of told me that it wasn't neccessarily the filmmakers doing the manipulating.
As another reviewer said, they seem to be just pointing the camera and shooting, with no obvious enhancements for dramatic effect. I can only appreciate that, as by the end I felt that I was mostly able to decide for myself. The film is in no way unbiased, but then the subjects within the film could hardly be considered unbiased.
In terms of the topic, I thought it was a good one to cover in a world where we mostly seem to focus on Islamic fundamentalism. We seem to forget that there are many other religions out there with their own special branches of people who are taking it too far.
I think the thing that I found most compelling was the fact that the preacher seemed to really believe what she was saying. She spoke with such conviction that I could see how people would be easily swayed by her, particularly children. I think that frightened me more than anything. Her passion was almost alarming, that is until we got to the kids.
The kids were disturbing. They were all so serious and adult like. At one point a twelve year old boy told the preacher that at the age of five, he was depressed and thought there was nothing more to life until he heard the word of God. Well, the preacher was pleased at any rate. Myself, I wasn't sure whether to scoff or to scream. If that really were the case, which I doubt that it is, and the boy really was depressed at five years old, then I think what we should all be concerned about is the loss of childhood, and of innocence. Clearly, we don't have to worry too much about imagination, there seemed to be plenty going round.