By Tara McNamara,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Grisly faith-based crime drama has iffy messages.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Strong message about the power of forgiveness. That said, the movie also generates a great deal of sympathy for a man who premeditates murdering his wife and child, which is a confusing message.
Positive Role Models
Carolyn and Mitch Bianci are supportive spouses and caring friends and parents, making them positive characters. But their friend who premeditated murder is portrayed in a way that's meant to generate sympathy, which is problematic.
Supporting characters include a kind Asian American police detective and a Black woman whose portrayal as a medium with spiritual powers feeds the "magical Negro" media cliche.
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Violence & Scariness
Grisly murder shown several times with voice-over description, including from the attacker's emotional point of view. A man hits his wife and child with a blunt instrument. Stabbing, strangling, shooting. Repeated scenes of a death via suicide with close-up images of a gun at a person's throat, as well as the first-person perspective of a car that's been intentionally driven off a cliff. Brutal assault of innocent bystanders. Suicidal ideation, plans, and references.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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One use of "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Negative character smokes cigarettes. Scenes in bars with drinks being served. Friends drink beer. Prescription drugs are seen with plans to intentionally overdose on more than one occasion.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Ravine is a faith-based true-crime drama about a murder-suicide perpetrated by a husband on his wife and child. Based on a book by Robert and Kelly Pascuzzi, life coaches who are executives in an organization that follows "The Secret"-type principles, this heavy drama follows the victims' best friends (Eric Dane and Teri Polo), who are baffled and distraught at how their smiling, easygoing buddy could do such heinous things. The horrifically violent events -- a man hitting his wife and child with a blunt instrument, stabbing, strangling, shooting, and driving off a cliff -- are replayed repeatedly. A medium delivers a message about the power of forgiveness (while also being portrayed in a very stereotypical way), but viewers may be confused by why the killer is being portrayed with sympathy. A negative character smokes, a couple of scenes take place at a bar, and there's one instance of profanity ("s--t."). Conversations touch on God and the afterlife, but it's likely even Christian audiences won't find much redemption here.
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Forgiveness brings reformation, peace and healing
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What's the Story?
Is It Any Good?
Grim from the get-go, this true-crime thriller is a confusing drudge that has good intentions but terrible execution. That's partly because we're watching the catharsis of first-time producers/screenwriters Robert and Kelly Pascuzzi (who wrote the book the film is based on), who are trying to create something positive out of real-life tragedy. Indeed, the Pascuzzis turn the loss of their friends into something good for them, but there's just nothing here for anyone else. Many spiritual messages blow through, almost making sense, rising and then disappearing like hot air.
The Ravine's problems are many. The acting and cinematography are fine, but the writing and direction are not, with lengthy exposition, speeches, and the cliche of giving the movie's one Black character special powers. It's also odd that one of the movie's speeches is about treasuring the dead, because the film does not. Viewers are given little to no meaningful information about the victims. And it feels downright disrespectful that instead of cutting away from the gruesome moments, the slayings of the wife and son are shown in horrific detail, on repeat. Plus, the psychological examination of the troubled husband/perpetrator is oddly sympathetic: We learn that Danny Turner (Peter Facinelli) was a popular high school football hero who went to jail for breaking into a house and beating a man nearly to death. In a development intended to show the power of forgiveness, the victim of that crime speaks up on Danny's behalf to get him released early. He makes good for while, but then he murders his family, so the take-away is problematic. But ultimately, the film's focus isn't on the players in the homicide, it's on the suffering of their friends, the Biancis. And other than tousling the surviving child's hair, the couple seem to have little involvement in the terrible events beyond their own narcissism of making a horrible tragedy all about them.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what elements make a movie faith-based. Does The Ravine qualify? How does it compare to other faith-based films you've seen?
Why can forgiveness sometimes be a more powerful tool for the person doing the forgiving than for the person being forgiven?
How can finding purpose in tragedy help people manage grief? Do you think that happens here?
The "touched by an angel" concept is a frequently used storytelling device. Why do you think screenwriters come back to it frequently?
- In theaters: May 6, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: May 6, 2022
- Cast: Teri Polo, Eric Dane, Peter Facinelli
- Director: Keoni Waxman
- Studio: Cinedigm
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 121 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some violence and language
- Last updated: March 14, 2023
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