Rachel Scott was the first person—and the first Christian—killed by the pathological murderers at Columbine High in Colorado in 1999. In the new film I’m Not Ashamed (2016), there is supposed to be some fictionalizing of Rachel’s story, but how much fictionalizing I don’t know. This in itself does not render the picture a failure, which in my view it is, though a very interesting failure—and, in fact, a film other critics have been unsurprisingly wrong about. One accused it of having “perfunctory” images, which is mostly a canard. What is true is that the cinematography here is crude, although in the daytime scenes it gets better.
Rachel (Masey McLain) is the daughter of a born-again mother, divorced. Through the influence of a relative she, too, becomes a Christian, keeping old friends (as best she can) and making new, devout ones. She starts a wobbly love relationship, however, with a nonbelieving kid to whom she doesn’t reveal she is a Christian. Meanwhile, the two evildoers, Harris and Klebold, conspire about their future killings.
Scott is a future martyr, but what the film explores is what it means to be a religious young person in a secular environment, the struggle of a Christian youth to discover an identity and a proper, or faithful, way of life. This is something I’m Not Ashamed does well. And it is forced to show us that this secular environment can be unjust and dangerous. The moviemakers have every right to blame Darwinian theory for the killing of Christians and others at Columbine, whether it’s intellectually defensible or not. They surely see it (Darwinian theory, not evolutionary theory, to the extent it is a theory) as anti-biblical and false. This particular element, though, is not as interesting as the movie itself.
Again, an interesting failure—riveting in several ways, lame in many others. I’m glad I saw it. The acting of Miss McLain, by the way, is not lame. As Rachel she does terrifically effective and modulated work.
Directed by Brian Baugh.