Writer-director Joshua Seftel’s short documentary, Stranger At The Gate, sheds light on what could turn a man to commit mass murder. The “stranger” here is 25-year U.S. Marine Mac McKinney, who was forced to retire from service due to an injury. After moving to Indiana, McKinney fell in love with Dana and her daughter, Emily, who still considers him her father.
McKinney is about as “redneck” as you can get in Indiana, and he was none too pleased with the growing Muslim population and mosques appearing in his community. Remembering 9/11, McKinney grew livid when a Muslim sat across from Emily during lunch. When the young lady asked her father about this person’s Muslim clothing, McKinney knew he had to do something. That something was to use his military training to build a bomb and take it to the mosque. He went as far as to infiltrate the mosque to scout the best location for his weapon and pick out a few “targets” while he was at it. McKinney’s life changed when he was confronted by members of the mosque and the FBI.
“…sheds light on what could turn a man to commit mass murder.”
I need to stop here because the story takes an incredible twist, which absolutely can not be spoiled (resist the temptation to look it up). This twist launches Stranger At The Gate into great territory with a message that needs to be heard by everyone, particularly in these times. It’s simply brilliant how the director lays out this story for maximum emotional effect. As part of the New Yorker’s documentary series, this short film is about as professional as you can get, cinematically speaking.
The documentary includes fantastic interviews from not just McKinney but ex-wife Dana as well. Emily opens up the movie about how it never dawned on her that her father was capable of mass murder. Seftel also speaks to members of the mosque that McKinney had targeted, who also couldn’t believe what he was capable of doing.
Stop whatever your doing and search out Stranger At The Gate. It proves that there are heroes left in this world and gives hope that this divisive direction we’re heading down may be stopped.
For screening information, visit the Stranger At The Gate official website.
"…proves that there are heroes left in this world..."