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By Merle Bertrand | October 25, 2001

If there’s one almost universally annoying trait about the Religious Right, at least for those of us who don’t belong to that particular club, it’s their penchant for trying to “save” everyone. This isn’t only an irritating waste of time, it’s insulting as well. If the “savee” were to ask for this service, that’d be one thing. But unsolicited saving, like unsolicited sales calls, are something else entirely. If you don’t believe me, just ask young Joe Boone (Jeff Lorch) or his wife Casey (Elise Ballard).
After a perilous cross country journey from West Virginia to Los Angeles for a job, only to find that it no longer exists, Joe, Casey and their young son abruptly find themselves homeless. Enter Barbara Kendoll (Alice Barrington). A fresh-faced student at the Texas Christian Fellowship University, Barbara leads a four person documentary team on a sort of anti-“Blair Witch Project.” This quickly squabbling foursome sets off on a mission to the coast; there to find a “less fortunate” soul to save…and document the process. As fate…oops!…as the Good Lord would have it, Barbara and company soon spot their victim: Joe standing on a street corner sheepishly holding up a sign asking for money.
Understandably reluctant at first, Joe eventually agrees to speak with the persistent young lady. Unfortunately for he and Casey, Barbara’s devout and dogged persistence quickly takes on all the trappings of a stalker. Soon, prayers and proselytizing give way to meddling as Barbara’s rebuffed determination to convert Joe and Casey leads her to nearly destroy the very family she set out to save.
“Miserable Comforters” is a difficult film to watch; registering very high as it does on the “Squirm-O-Meter.” Even knowing director Johnathon Schæch’s film is meant as a satire, it’s still tough enduring Barbara’s self-righteous smugness. For whereas many films have an embarrassing scene or two in which a character makes a fool of him or herself, that’s what this entire film is like. One finds himself watching “Miserable Comforters” wanting someone — anyone — to just slap this annoying twit and get her to shut the hell up. This, then, is quickly followed by the horrible realization that there are hundreds of others out there driven to save, just like Barbara, if not worse.
Once this realization hits, it’s not just the comforters in the meandering occasionally disturbing “Miserable Comforters” who are miserable.

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