Six: The Mark Unleashed (2004)

Six: The Mark Unleashed (2004)

Crimes:

  • Opening with a litany of historical atrocities in an attempt to give the lurid, pulpy, Christian thriller gravity it doesn’t deserve 
  • Being dreary and heavy-handed even for an evangelical thriller about life in post-Rapture United States
  • Using the ugliness of Tribulation times as an excuse to under-light every scene to make it as ugly, muddy, and hard to watch as possible
  • Dressing up clunky evangelical sermonizing in science-fiction trappings 

Defenders: Director/star Kevin Downes and star David White 

Tone of commentary: Giggly, details-oriented, semi-ashamed, mildly jokey, and surprisingly easy on proselytizing, even though the commentators spend much of the time spelling out the film’s Christian themes and everything else that really doesn’t require extensive explication. But what’s left unsaid is as important as what is. Downes and White are diplomatic and genial to a fault, but they drop all manner of cryptic comments concerning the film and its cast. For example, the line “Christians are so annoying” (a sentiment the filmmakers presumably do not share) is attributed to a screenwriter named Fletcher Grayson. The sentiment is immediately followed by, “We love Fletcher.” With an air of exhaustion, they talk about how some scenes were filmed nearly a year after the film wrapped.

To their credit, the filmmakers never profess to be great, or even particularly good at their jobs. For example, they note that they wanted a torture scene to be “very cliché,” yet puzzlingly “not overboard.” They justify their use of clichés for a damn good reason: They’re effective in making lurid pulp even more comically lurid. Though they’re generous with praise for all their collaborators, they seem vaguely embarrassed about having made Six; talking about it for 105 minutes seems to fill them with shame. Then again, talking about yourself and your achievements is a terribly un-Christian thing to do. 

What went wrong: Clearly a lot went wrong. Like all independent filmmakers everywhere, Downes and White didn’t have anywhere near as much money and time as they’d like (who other than James Cameron does?) and consequently had to cut corners, live with imperfections, and borrow their friends’ luxury cars because they were driving lemons. Yet the filmmakers don’t go into much detail beyond noting that a camera broke, a car taking Stephen Baldwin to the set crashed, and everything generally seemed to be much more of a headache than originally imagined. 

Inevitable dash of pretension: The director wanted the lighting in a scene with Eric Roberts and Jeffrey Dean Morgan to be as dark as possible to reflect the bleak state of a world ruled by the Antichrist. Later, when the characters escape prison, the colors become lighter. This explains why much of the film looks like it was shot in a dank cellar. 

Comments on the cast: The filmmakers seem surprised that Eric Roberts became so deeply invested in the role despite the meager screen time. They were similarly shocked that Stephen Baldwin returned their phone call when they approached him about a role. They initially assumed it was one of the many Stephen Baldwin impersonators out there because, c’mon, what are the odds of Stephen Baldwin wanting to collaborate with earnest, low-budget Christian filmmakers? It just seemed too good to be true. That said, the filmmakers did not know Baldwin was a born-again Christian, though that’s just about the only thing folks know about him these days. 

Like many Commentary Tracks Of The Damned commentators, they are easily impressed by the slightest of things. A 7-foot man astounded them with his height, while a friend illustrated his balls-out commitment to the film and his part by getting his head shaved, something the filmmakers perceive as a tremendous sacrifice. 

Commentary in a nutshell: [Drearily.] “He wants to know what’s going on with humans getting their heads cut off, and Cody doesn’t really care.”