Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” provided validation that there is a significant audience for faith-based films. Since then, many more films have achieved box office success with themes of redemption, miracles, healing and faith. And, while several films are based on the existence of Heaven, very few seek to explore the concept and consequences of Hell.
With “The Near Death Experience of Dr. John Dantry”, I borrowed from a “scared straight” program that deters at-risk children from lives of crime by taking them on field trips into prisons. I wanted to depict a Hell so bad, that non-believers may reconsider their views about God and Jesus. The big difference between the scared straight program and “Near Death” is, of course, that Hell is eternal. Well, except for Dr. John Dantry.
Many people have stories of near-death experiences in which they visit Heaven. Dr. Dantry’s tale is more akin to the Biblical story of the rich man in Hades pleading with Abraham to allow Lazarus to forewarn his brothers that there is a Hell and they don’t want to end up there for eternity. Dr. Dantry becomes the messenger for a young mother recently confined to Hell. With a second chance, he delivers her plea to her family. In so doing, Dr. Dantry achieves redemption, transitioning from saver of mortal lives to saver of lives eternal.