Movie Review: The Runner from Ravenshead ** Winner Chosen!**

Title:  The Runner from Ravenshead
Format: DVD
Studio: Little Crew Studios
Synopsis: “Pilgrim’s Progress meets Little Rascals” in this fun action/adventure movie featuring an all-children cast. Shot in Oregon’s picturesque Willamette River Valley and accompanied by an original score recorded live by the FILMharmonic Orchestra of Prague©, The Runner from Ravenshead is an allegory about finding refuge and rest from the metaphorical wardens we face in life.

After a daring escape from Ravenshead Prison, Sam finds herself in worse trouble trying to outrun the relentless wardens. But help is on the way – kind of. Henry, janitor for the City of Refuge Guide Service, is unexpectedly thrust into the line of duty when all the trained guides are called out on other missions. As he sets out on his long-awaited first assignment, he gets more adventure than he bargained for. Will the enthusiastic but awkward amateur guide persuade Sam to trust him before it’s too late.

A friend dinged me on the messenger a couple of weeks ago with a link to this movie preview.

This movie was the winner of the Audience Choice award and runner up for Best of Festival and Best Feature Film at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.  That’s impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the fact that the actors in the movie are five siblings– all ten or younger.  The parents wrote the script, directed it, produced it, and even did most of the costuming/sets.  Hey, even the family dog was involved.  The website bills the story as, “Pilgrim’s Progress meets Little Rascals.”  That’s just about right.

I ordered it two weeks ago, and last Wednesday, I got the notice that the movie shipped.  Yeah… I was panicking.  See, last week I promised this review.  I was pretty sure I’d have to push it back a ways.  After all, that was really only three days to be delivered.  They came through!  I went to get the mail on Saturday and there was the package.  I couldn’t believe it.  I also got a kick out of the invoice that came with it.  Very sweet.

But, this isn’t telling you about the movie.  I expected cheesy cinematography.  I almost wrote that I was “disappointed.”  It’s one of those rare times when not getting what you expect is good!  The cinematography is better than many TV shows and as good as most movies.  If you’re used to independent films looking “homemade” you will be stunned at the professionalism of this one.

With all of the actors being ten and under (I think this is accurate), I expected it to be difficult to understand them, the acting to be stiff, and to see a lot of bloopers.  Not hardly.  In the preview, when I saw the fake beards and mustaches, I just rolled my eyes and figured I’d have to overlook that– tune it out.  Actually, for some crazy reason, they lend the movie a certain bit of charm.  I can’t explain why I like it.  Normally, I’d hate it.

The plot is not predictable.  There was one twist in particular that I absolutely did not see coming.  I thought I had it all figured out– to be truthful, I thought it was going to be all about how people will give all the appearance of wanting Jesus but though they’re “almost persuaded,” they just won’t yield.  I was wrong.  It’s allegorical and yet it isn’t oppressively so.  You don’t really notice it until you look back and see all of the little nuances that are woven into the story.  I have a feeling I’m going keep finding little things as I rewatch it.  Oh, and it will be watched– often.

I think the thing that surprised me the most was when I found myself holding my breath during one tense scene.  That is when I knew that this wasn’t just a “nice” movie– this is a good movie if you can have the entire thing acted by children, playing adults, playing many different roles, and still get so lost in the story that you hold your breath.

The storyline is simple but profound.  People are imprisoned.  They escape.  The escapees are called “runners.”  The wardens pursue the runners and bring them back.  The “City of Refuge” will give the runners sanctuary if they get there.  Most people don’t know the city is there.  So, there are guides sent out every time a runner escapes.  If the runner is wise and listens to the guide, he’ll make it to the city.  If not, the warden WILL capture them.  This movie is about one runner– Sam and her journey from Ravenshead to the City of Refuge.

I give it five stars.  I love it.  Actually, I love it so much that I’m giving away a copy.  To win, simply leave a comment and tell me what you thought of the trailer.

Congratulations, Cathy!