The 1994 film, The Crossing, tells the story of two teenage friends. Jason (Kevin Downes) and Matt (David A.R. White) used to be cheerful juvenile delinquents. But now, Matt is dying of what appears to be leukemia and Jason …. well, Jason’s in denial. Jason does not want to admit that his best friend is going to die. But then his best friend does die and Jason really doesn’t have any choice to admit it. But then, at Matt’s funeral, Matt suddenly shows up and starts talking to Jason.
That’s right …. MATT’S BACK!
Unfortunately, Matt’s only back for a little bit and only Jason can see him. Having died, Matt has not only witnessed Heaven but also discovered that it’s really difficult to get in. He takes Matt to a heavenly court where they watch as another one of their friends is condemned to Hell by a sympathetic but firm-handed judge. Matt also visits the big computer room where all of the records are kept. He’s given a big dot-matrix printout that lists all of his sins. There’s a lot of them!
However, Jason tells Matt that there’s still hope for him and then invites him to come check out Heaven. They just have to walk over a wooden cross that is used as bridge between Purgatory and Heaven. Underneath the bridge is Hell and no one wants to go down there. However, no sooner have Matt and Jason crossed over than Jason notices that his mother is following them! And she can’t see the bridge! Uh-oh!
The Crossing is an early example of the Christian scare film, where the main message is that, if you displease God, you’ll go to Hell and suffer for all eternity. Obviously, that’s a very cinematic message and these films always seem to spend a good deal of time in trying to find new ways to visualize Hell. That said, I’ve always felt like that message was a bit counter-productive. Instead of emphasizing what Jesus preached and what the Church is supposed to stand for (even if it rarely lives up to its own standards), these films instead seem to say, “Convert or we’ll punish you forever.” People will do a lot of things under the threat of eternal pain and damnation but I’m a bit skeptical as to how sincere any of those actions will be. Indeed, many evangelical films seem to take a bit too much pleasure in imagining people being condemned to Hell. There’s definitely an element of, “You think you’re so smart but we’ll get the last laugh!” to these films. That’s not exactly the best attitude.
That said, The Crossing is slicky produced and it gets a lot of mileage out of its low budget. The scene in the computer room actually had a few intentional laughs as Matt marveled at how business-like and matter-of-fact all the record keepers were. They were just doing their jobs with an attitude that said, “We’ve seen things you can’t even imagine.” Who wouldn’t want that job? Still, one has to wonder why Matt got to go see all of this and change his life but his friend who was condemned to Hell didn’t. That doesn’t seem quite fair.