Why ‘Ashamed’ Doesn’t Just Preach to Christian Choir

You could argue “I’m Not Ashamed” is what a Christian movie oughtta be, too.

“Ashamed” shares the final days of Rachel Joy Scott, one of the 13 people killed in the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. The film can’t escape the faith-based label. Rachel was a Christian, and it informed almost every aspect of her life.

The movie wisely doesn’t try.

Instead, it tells a universal tale. A teen discovers who she is and what she’s meant to do in life. That she arrived at that place is particularly poignant given the events of April 20, 1999.

I'm Not Ashamed: Official Movie Trailer (2016)

Rachel (a radiant Masey McLain) is a pretty but unpopular girl in her Colorado school. She’s prone to doodling on her jeans and has a weakness for unflattering hats. Her faith in Christ isn’t as secure as her doting mom would like it to be.

She’s rather try to fit in with her small cadre of friends than live a spiritual life. What’s an innocent drink here or there, right? Isn’t high school is hard enough?

So why isn’t she happy?

Turns out life has other plans for her. She befriends a homeless teen (Ben Davies), giving him the resources to steer clear of the gutter. She bonds with fellow school “outcasts,” finding strength in kindred spirits.

Rachel Scott’s actual journals inspired the screenplay to ‘I’m Not Ashamed.’

And, little by little, her faith blooms with every good deed.

She still can’t resist the charms of a budding author (Cameron McKendry), but Rachel fears he won’t accept her Christian

All the while, a pair of misfit classmates plot their revenge against a culture with little interest in them. That chilling reality drives the film’s story line. It’s also the movie’s weakest link. We watch how the future killers stew over being mistreated by their fellow students. They rage against the high school machine, stockpiling weapons in the process.

It’s a tricky evolution to depict as an emotionally charged subplot. Director Brian Baugh, who proves so successful capturing the nuances of the modern high school, doesn’t do these nightmarish developments justice.

Much less, frankly would have benefited the film. We know the awful headlines and could have constructed this subplot better in our minds.

Rachel’s journey is far more compelling. The young McLain captures her joy and pain with a wisdom that honors the real teen’s life. She wasn’t perfect. She simply inspired others to be better.

RELATED: Angelina Jolie Shows How to Promote Christian Films

Is “I’m Not Ashamed” Christian “propaganda,” as many critics will likely charge? It’s a rigorously crafted story featuring a charming lead and relatable life experiences. It doesn’t exploit the murderous rampage, nor does it downplay its ghastly results.

It honors a young woman who made a profound impact in her short life. It’s life affirming to the core, avoiding sermons at every turn.

If that’s propaganda, bring it on.

HiT or Miss: Faith-based films are tough sells to secular audiences. But the powerful drama “I’m Not Ashamed” tells a story that should find some common ground with most audiences.


  1. What’s the acting quality of the film like? I’m potentially interested in the movie, but I can’t seem to get a clear idea of what it’s artistic merits are like. I’m used to ‘Christian film’ being long on good intentions and messages but short on artistic quality (and as a Christ follower and artist myself that’s pretty discouraging to me at times). Would you say this was well made, production values-wise speaking? In comparison to other recent Christian films (God’s Not Dead, Risen, Heaven Is For Real, etc.) where does it place in regards to such qualities (just so I have a yard stick to give me a better idea of what it’s like)?

      1. How does the acting compare with some of the other recent Christian movies?
        I feel like I see a lot of Christians who post reviews and stuff (like for another movie I was checking IMDB reviews for last night) who basically praise the productions values of these movies because they love the message, but those are two separate things. So I’m just trying to get a feel for how this one is by contrasting it with other movies.
        Can you compare it to any other recent films for me (especially Christian ones)? Like, its production values (acting, writing, etc.) are about on the same quality level as -INSERT MOVIE HERE-?

        Thanks in advance.

      2. I’m not the best person to rate a person’s acting ability but the characters, except perhaps the two perps, were all wonderfully drawn and the actors and the actresses made those characters completely believable. No character in this movie was two dimensional or cardboard, which is usually the case with most “Christian” movies. The only flaw that a “realist” would find in the characters is that the movie wants to see the best in everyone it portrays. It sees the flaws and warts, but looks at them through the lens of love.

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