The writers of “God’s Not Dead” and “Unplanned” have done remarkably well with a new film that takes on a fearsome topic: demon possession.
“Nefarious” came in at No. 10 at the box office and earned $1.3 million in its opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.
The film has a 96 percent audience approval score on Rotten Tomatoes, although the media reviews came in at only 33 percent — not unusual for Christian productions that tackle biblical topics.
Those numbers are especially impressive considering the movie was shown in only 933 theaters and was up against two other horror movies, according to The Christian Post.
“Nefarious” tells the story of a death-row inmate (Sean Patrick Flanery) who is interviewed by a psychiatrist (Jordan Belfi) on the eve of his execution.
The unsettling interaction shakes the psychiatrist’s belief system to the core. He becomes convinced the prisoner is possessed by a demon who is now turning his attention to the visitor and making predictions about his future.
It’s a dark topic, but filmmakers Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman said it’s one befitting the times in which we live.
“It’s something that we felt called to do,” Solomon told Faithwire. “There’s something different now in America. There’s something different in the world. There’s some kind of dark thing going on. Just look around.”
The filmmakers said “the devil didn’t want this movie to be made” and that those involved with the project encountered spiritual warfare from Day 1.
“The devil literally didn’t want us to do it,” Konzelman told The Christian Post. “But we pushed through. The Lord said, ‘Keep pushing.’”
“We prayed on it — we prayed on everything — and just kept on moving forward. … When you go through an experience like this, your faith in God goes up, and so does your understanding that the devil is real.”
Solomon agreed. “I will say that honestly, from the first moment we wrote the script, weird, crazy things began to happen,” he said.
The occurrences ranged from minor annoyances — a rodent invading their lodgings and destroying a nativity set — to car accidents and wind that blew the roof off their office building.
The most serious incidents involved two people associated with the production who suddenly became gravely ill and almost died. One was author Steve Deace, who wrote the book on which “Nefarious” is based.
“The first day Steve Deace visited the set, he got very sick with a cyst under his arm. Suddenly, it disappears,” Konzelman told the Post. “Literally the morning before the theatrical premiere, it comes back.
“By nightfall, he’s in the ER, mumbling and muttering incoherently. He was near death and had a live infection. … It was everywhere, and he had to undergo surgery. He almost died.”
Additionally, the Roman Catholic priest they hired as a consultant on exorcism and spiritual warfare was hit with a sudden attack of appendicitis.
“His appendix burst during filming and he almost died. … The surgeon told him, ‘If you got here an hour later you would not be here.’”
Those examples are “just the tip of the iceberg,” Solomon said.
“The adversary does what he does, but the Lord does what he does. In other words, [God says,] ‘You want to stop the movie, but I’m going to protect the people doing the movie and make sure they keep going on.’”
Konzelman told the Post they have witnessed God work one victory after another for them throughout the process.
“The movie is surviving and growing,” he said. “It’s anointed. It’s God bringing the truth like a lion. Unchain the lion, let him out of the cage, and the truth — you don’t need to defend it. It will defend itself.”
“I don’t know how the Spirit works, but I know it’s working on this film,” he added.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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