Too often, short films go unnoticed in our cultural diet. But often they also have important things to say to us. Few films, short or feature-length, bring the gravity and honesty of Cruel Logic.
Cruel Logic, written and directed by Brian Godawa (screenwriter of To End All Wars and The Visitation, author of Hollywood Worldviews and God Against the Gods) is, in short, the undressing of a postmodern and relativistic approach to ethics. The plot is simple and situational. A philosophy professor, following his lecture on relative morality, is kidnapped by a psychopath who was in the audience. Said psychopath then demands that the philosophy professor prove, using his own philosophy, why he shouldn’t kill him. The philosophy professor, armed with nothing more than his relativism, is unable to do so.
What Godawa is doing through this short film is a tactic from Greek philosophy called “reductio ad absurdum” (Greg Koukl, in his apologetics book Tactics, calls this “taking the roof off”). By bringing about this scenario, the short film is essentially an extended illustration of the consequences of a relativistic worldview. This does not automatically make the argument false (it could theoretically be the case that we live in a world where evil things are not objectively immoral), but it forces the individual to confront the full implications of their worldview, which may include facts they don’t actually agree with, such as that cold-blooded murder is not wrong.
There are many reasons I love this short film, but the biggest one is this: it’s a perfect example of how a Christian can effectively communicate from a Christian perspective, without being pigeonholed into the genre of Christian inspirational drama. It’s also brilliantly acted, with professional actors taking on both roles. Tony Hale, who plays the philosophy professor, has over 100 credits on IMDb, including appearances on Chuck, Stranger Than Fiction, Arrested Development, and many others. Robert Pierce, who plays the serial killer, is a classically trained actor who began his career on the stage, appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This highlights the importance of not only the worldview of effective entertainment, but effective execution, as well.
All told, Cruel Logic is a compelling short film that effectively communicates a critique of a relativist worldview, but does so using thriller and horror genre conventions with high production value and excellent execution. I highly recommend you watch it, and take a look at Brian Godawa’s other work, as well. You can check out his books and other projects by going to his website.