A Light In The Darkness Review

Genre: Documentary

Year Released: 2011
Distributor: Grave Robbers (streaming on YouTube)
Origin: USA

Running Time: 41 Minutes

Rating/Recommended Audience: PG
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?, Let the Church Say Amen, Danielson: A Family Movie
-There are two versions of this documentary. This review will focus on the full-length version instead of the abridged version.

-Shawn Browning AKA Wretched, the lead singer of Grave Robber (the band, not the distributor of this film) shows up in this documentary. His vocal cords have nodes in them, and there’s a comp called Kill the Ill where the proceeds will go to his medical bills.
Fun Facts:

-I have seen every band that played live in this documentary except for Coriolis.

This review deals with a touchy subject as it’s main theme: Christianity. Not the typical kind you see at any church down the road though. I’m talking about a Christian Goth subculture.

I’m not making this up, but the concept of this documentary is better than what you expect.

 Taking place at the 2011 Gothicon event in Cincinnati, Ohio, this documentary details the attendees at this Christian Gothic event full of music, art, and a parasol parade outside. This event was spearheaded by Grave Robber Ministries who are a subculture ministry outreach group led by Donna Sheehy AKA Goth Mom among other people.

A Light in the Darkness is based on several interviews between the concertgoers, musicians, and everyone else who showed up to this particular event. Many people give their insights on Christianity, the Gothic subculture at large, and how they see the world. No, these aren’t your pseudo Goths who shop at Hot Topic non stop, they definitely look like the real thing with the fashions, and taste in music. One common theme that I noticed in several of these interviews was an underlying frustration with mainstream Christianity which I found very fascinating.

Some of the attendees were judged and bullied by these Christians and felt alienated until they got connected to this event or finding out some websites that cater to them. They have even been judged as occult practitioners or satanic which aren’t even relevant to the Goth scene at all. One attendee by the name of Mark struggled with this alienation because of him having Asperger’s Syndrome and also because his youth minister told him that Goths were satanists or queers. There’s even a little quip that he made about how mainstream Christians only follow mainstream news and assume that these people are going to pull off another Columbine. The level of judgment mentioned was unbearable. No one should ever be shunned just because of their taste in art, music, or fashion if they aren’t hurting anyone.

I thought it was intriguing with how they tied elements of theology into this subcultural lifestyle. Like the title of the documentary itself, it can be seen as Goths being attracted to darkness as a way to scare it off or to go in darker places where mainstream Christians fear to tread. The exposure to darkness (literal and/or metaphorical) is an overarching theme as people give testimonies on being hurt, getting into drugs, or one concertgoer admitting to be into self-mutilation and wanting to kill himself at age twenty before seeking salvation.

The music itself was good. Granted, I’ve heard several of these bands on record and live in concert. They are all very talented and most of their lyrics aren’t preachy at all. Don’t expect anything like Hillsong or Amy Grant here. These bands range from industrial, punk, metal, and dark ambient. While the bands do offer some good tunes, I wish the audio editing would have been better. I felt like the live mixes were muddled and I really noticed it during Coriolis’s scenes when they were playing their music.

While many of these vignettes were fascinating, I wish there was some better visual production. I can tolerate lower budget productions since I do have a bit of an affinity for neo-realism and cinema verite, but I wish the camera work and the coding would be improved. The lighting was poor in the really dark scenes and I saw some aliasing and fuzzy coloration. I get that they were going for gritty filmmaking, but it didn’t always translate on DVD.

A Light In The Darkness was a fine watch from a subject that not many people would expect. The testimonies were good, but some production issues did hamper the viewing experience. Usually, religion-based documentaries aren’t my thing, but there’s some quality material here.

Adjustable Point System:

Add 1 point if you like Gothic music
Subtract 2-3 points if you can’t stand religion discussed in movies

-Excellent testimonies and the people are sympathetic
-Good music
-Atypical outlook on Christianity

-Mediocre video production
-Sound editing could have been better
-Some points to repeat themselves

Final Score: 7/10 points

Content Warning: There’s not really anything objectionable, but topics such as suicide, drug use/abuse, and self-mutilation do come up. It would be good for older kids and up.

-Curtis Monroe


    • Sure thing. I saw Christian Goths before, and what’s crazy is that I have actually met some of the interviewees in real life whom I know through Cornerstone. If you want to get into some music in that subculture, I’d check out Leper, Dark Valentine, and Grave Robber.


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