ASFFF 2019: Jesus Shows You The Way to the Highway (2019) - Reviewed

After missing last year's event, we once again ventured down to the Atlanta Science Fiction Film Festival 2019 presented by the MCSFO (Multi-Cultural Science Fiction Organization). During our visit, we screened 12 amazing sci-fi shorts as well as two full length features. As usual, the short run time films ran the gamut. All were unique in their own way, with many painting a very bleak future for our planet. Many played like pitch perfect story ideas for episodes of Black Mirror. And that's not a bad thing at all. 

The first of the dual movie feature set was the brain melting, alternate reality Ethiopian science fiction film, Jesus Shows You The Way to the Highway. This was by far the most insane thing we watched over the weekend. Breaking down many genre tropes into a blender of overly zealous and unhinged creativity, there's not much else to say than to see this thing as soon as possible. If you're into ludicrous stories about do-gooders fighting an evil technological entity, this is a must see movie that deserves a blu-ray package from someone like Arrow Video or Shout! Factory.

The low budget project sees two CIA agents enter an alternate realm via virtual reality goggles where they must do battle with a computer virus named Stalin in an environment simply titled Soviet Union. What's being billed as "new Afrofuturist sci-fi" is a head scratching trip that blends common themes from The Matrix with a near Lynchian plot that sees two heroic men do battle against absurdist enemies from another dimension. Filmed in Ethiopia, Estonia, and Spain, Jesus Shows You The Way to the Highway is qualified as escapist cinema of the highest order. The story takes viewers to the outer limits of an altered reality as our director piles on tons of humor, violence, and a dream world where owning a roving pizza parlor or kickboxing dojo is the ultimate life goal. Even with all the goofiness, there's a humanist story here that truly makes us feel sympathy for the central character, Agent D.T. Gagano (played by actor Daniel Tadesse).

Directed by Miguel Llanso, his latest spin is a surefire cult gem that might attract several different audiences including fans of exploitation, sci-fi and martial arts. Considering this newest flick combines elements from the '70s, '80s and amalgamates them into his own uncommon vision of a technologically warped future, those that have been riding the current trend of retro style filmmaking will definitely have something to latch on to here. With its tonally unique style and fantastical plot elements, this is a visionary tale that doesn't let up. The laughs are never ending and the action doesn't stop. In completing his strange rendering of conspiracies and low brow espionage, his overly dated version of VR uses now ancient analog tech including micro tube televisions, computers from the Reagan era, and vintage telephones. 

If you like artistic motion pictures that try to do something new and push against the standard fare that gets pumped out to Amazon Prime and Netflix lately, Jesus Shows You The Way to the Highway is a breath of fresh, but freaky air that takes high concept sci fi and spins it on its head. This film could easily fit into the Troma catalog with its pervasive use of sensuality and goofball sense of humor. With all practical effects work and a load of good old fun, this is easily the strangest film of 2019 and one that will definitely find a dynamic audience. Honestly, I think the best comparison I could make would be Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone. If you're a fan of movies that go against the grain and assault the senses, this is definitely a show stopper. 

Mind blown. Check it out as soon as you can. Watch the trailer below!

-Chris George