Religious fervor gone horribly wrong informs the slow but often engrossing thriller Godspeed, which takes place in the harsh but beautiful wilds of Alaska. Charlie Shepard (McKelheer, who also co-wrote) is a small-town faith healer whose abilities may be mostly bunk, but whose desire to take care of his family and help other people is genuine. That doesn’t make a difference to the disillusioned son of a woman Charlie couldn’t heal, though, and the young man murders Charlie’s wife and son in retaliation.
Months later, lured to the murderer’s remote compound under false pretenses, Charlie finds himself fighting for both his life and his faith. As the film’s villain, Knauf (another co-writer) can’t quite bring the complexity to sell the mix of malice and rapture required for such a character, but the brutal, drawn-out climax provides enough suspense and danger to make up for the slow buildup. The mostly untouched Alaskan landscape provides the perfect backdrop for a story about a world that’s both unforgiving and full of wonder. Director Saitzyk and his two starring co-writers don’t push too hard to make grand statements, and that ambiguity is a little frustrating but also admirable, and wisely never overshadows the visceral, violent story at the movie’s core.