Thin Ice, a short film from 1988, tells the story of Vince (Jay Roberts, Jr.).
Vince is a college student. He likes to party and drink and basically do all of the stuff that, if we’re going to be honest, people are supposed to be doing in college. I mean, yes, it’s true. College is about getting you ready to enter the adult world. But it’s also that last chance that most students will have to truly enjoy all of the stuff that’s typically frowned upon by the adult world. College is supposed to be a time of experimentation and Vince has certainly been experimenting! Good for him!
His parents, of course, disagree. When Vince comes home the winter break, his parents insist that he go to church with them. Vince is all, “I’m too cool for church!” but he goes anyways because otherwise, he might have to stay at a hotel. He meets some other college students at the church and he ends up getting invited on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe. Vince loves to ski so, of course, he says yes.
Vince is stunned to discover that his new friends are actually being sincere when they say they’re Christians and he struggles to adjust to hanging out with them. However, he soon discovers that they’re not as a weird as he thought they were. Of course, Vince and everyone else is soon more concerned with Shawna (Amy Lyndon). Shawna is the type of bitter atheist who always shows up in movies like this. From the minute she first appears, she’s complaining about religion and accusing all of the members of the youth group of being hypocrites.
A good deal of the movie is literally this:
Youth Group Member: “Hey, Shawna, good morning.”
Shawna: “YOUR GOD HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CREATING THE MORNING!”
Youth Group Member: “I think I’m going to get some skiing in, if you want to come.”
Shawna: “YOUR GOD ALLOWS TOO MANY PEOPLE TO DIE IN SKIING ACCIDENTS!”
Youth Group Member: “Okay, well, let me know if you change your mind….”
Shawna: “MY MIND BELONGS TO ME, YOU HOLLY ROLLER!”
Yes, Shawna is pretty spiteful and, most of the time, pretty annoying. But she’s ultimately so extremely hateful that it becomes oddly fascinating to listen to her. As a character, she really is the epitome of what most Christians think of when they think of an atheist. She’s intolerant, angry, condescending, and self-destructive. Admittedly, there’s quite a few atheists who are like that but there are others who simply don’t believe in God because they don’t and not because they’re angry at the world or consumed by self-loathing. Just as secular films always seem to struggle with the idea that a normal person can go to church, Christian films can never seem to accept that some people just don’t believe in God. Instead, the assumption is that everyone secretly believes in God but they’re just not willing to admit it.
Anyway, a character eventually falls through some thin ice (hence, the title) and nearly drowns. This leads to everyone having a religious epiphany so I guess the lesson here is that, if you’re confused about what you believe, just wait for a casual acquaintance to have a near death experience.
Anyway, Thin Ice is a pretty typical 80s Christian film. It’s not quite as slickly put together as the films of the Christiano Brothers but, at the same time, it also doesn’t have the mean streak that runs through a lot of the early Christiano films. Shawna may be an obnoxious atheist but she’s not threatened with Hell or anything like that. For the most part, though, this is a pretty low-key and forgettable film. It’s a bit of a time capsule of the time in which it was made but otherwise, Thin Ice is almost as forgettable as an ice cube melting in the summer.
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