Starring Ruselis Aumeen Perry, Nathan Clarkson, Rachel Fenton, Meggie Maddock, Eric Roberts, Stephen Fuller Austin; directed by Brandon Toy and Nathan Clarkson; 76 minutes; not rated.
Loving thy neighbor is easier said than done. It’s a biblical lesson that can be lost on anyone — even a man of God. The direct-to-video film “The Unlikely Good Samaritan” goes beyond entertainment to drive that lesson home.
Monument native Nathan Clarkson, 29, wrote, produced, co-directed and co-starred in the movie, which was released on DVD and digitally this week and is available at retail outlets including Walmart and Kmart. It soon might become available on streaming platforms, Clarkson said.
He premiered the film Monday at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media in Colorado Springs for friends, supporters and most of the cast.
Through his production company, Lighting Dark, the story was filmed mostly in Colorado Springs over nine days in the summer of 2017. Clarkson funded it chiefly through a Kickstarter campaign that year that surpassed its $7,000 goal. Donors who gave $1,000 or more won a role in the film.
The nicely done production features many a parking garage, abandoned industrial site and back alley as backdrops, though the mountains have supporting roles, too.
Sometimes the camera work is a tad shaky, marked by shifts and zooms into and out of focus.
Ruselis “Russ” Aumeen Perry, a local actor with appearances on the “American Ninja Warrior” reality TV series and movie roles in “The Jurassic Dead” and “Justice League: Dawn of Apokolips,” works for the city’s Police Department. In this film, he shines as Sam Walker, the good Samaritan. A drifter, he strolls into town searching for “more” after a life of bad breaks.
Oscar-nominated actor Eric Roberts (“Star 80,” “Runaway Train,” “The Dark Knight”) makes a cameo appearance as a world-weary, wise bartender. His brief scenes were filmed in Los Angeles. Roberts, 62, often takes roles in Christian movies (“Let the Lion Roar,” “Road to the Open,” “In the Name of God.”)
In Clarkson’s film, Roberts utters the cliched line, “You’re not from around here, are you?”
Clarkson, who calls L.A. home, has written and produced two other faith-based movies, the full-length “Confessions of a Prodigal Son” and the short film “God Can You Hear Me,” both in 2015.
He plays Chris Jennings, temporary pastor of a small church in a new town. Jennings, troubled by a modern addiction that threatens his seemingly perfect marriage, struggles to keep up appearances. When Walker (Perry) shows up at Bible study one day, Jennings is less than welcoming. Inspired by what he reads in the Bible, Walker shows up at church the following Sunday, only to be rebuffed by the new pastor.
Walker nevertheless selflessly helps Jennings out of a bind. “Welcome to the imperfect club,” he tells the pastor, giving him the shirt off his back.
California-based actress Rachel Fenton and Denver’s Meggie Maddock (“The Ridiculous 6,” “Dear Eleanor”) bring nuance and depth to the film as Jennings’ devoted wife and Walker’s girlfriend, respectively. Colorado Springs acting coach Stephen Fuller Austin appears as a judgmental church elder. Quite a few other Colorado Springs residents make their film debuts as congregation members.
While the moral to the story — loving your neighbor despite your differences — is not exactly subtle, the message that originates in Luke (10:25-37) remains relevant.
“I hope people will see from this how we all need help, and that we all need to look further than the skin,” Clarkson said in a 2017 interview.
Contact the writer, 476-1602