We don’t need to be told “Gun and a Hotel Bible” is based on a play. The memory monologues, the compact two-person structure, basically a single set, the theological debates — very theatrical.
A desperate man (Bradley Gosnell) staring at the end of a failed marriage checks into an older Chicago hotel. Waiting for him there, in televangelist hair and Mormon missionary suit, is “Gid” (Daniel Floren), a Gideon’s Bible.
“Pete” has brought a gun, and a note. He’s come to the hotel where Cindy (Mia Marcon) has her Friday night assignations. What will he do with it? Can Gid talk him out of it?
Gid is perpetually upbeat, even though he’s been eyewitness to a long “life” of shenanigans, sadness and tragedy, just in this room.
“Don’t most hotels at least have the courtesy to leave you in the drawer? Jesus Christ!”
But sure, he’s been in that drawer for decades, but he’s been yanked out, here and there — lost a page to “a guy who needed paper to roll a joint. ‘Judges.’ Ironically.”
“Is Reagan still president? Is Batman still a thing?”
Word that the Cubs won the World Series makes Gid giddy.
Telling him that he missed out on the mass appeal “Satanic” Pokemon craze is a great to get Gid’s goat.
But this is mostly about the weightier stuff. Pete’s plans with that gun give the night and their debates urgency. “God becoming flesh,” taking the challenge of finding heavenly immorality in the Good Book and winning it with a quick flip to “Leviticus,” a lapsed “believer” bickering with “God works through me. I’m scripture, for God’s sake!”
Gid summons up the most popular verses in trying to reach Pete. “Already heard it.” And the distraught man unravels as the straws both grasp at are used up.
The acting is polished, the banter quick and cutting, and occasionally funny. “Gun and a Hotel Bible” was co-directed by the fellow who gave us Drew Barrymore’s “Never Been Kissed,” and Raja Gosnell (Whos’ Bradley’s daddy?) and Alicia Joy LeBlanc keep their camera close, putting the exchanges in our faces. A couple of sequences nicely fade up the lights on a foreground or background moment — a cinematic effect. borrowed from theater.
It’s a just a smidge edgier than your average faith-based film, but just as simplistic. And it never quite lets you forget its stagebound origins.
About the best you can say about it is that “Gun and a Hotel Bible” is that it isn’t quite up to the “worst directors of all time” infamy of Raja Gosnell’s resume (per IMDb.com), a guy who used to put his son Bradley in “Scooby-doo” and “Show Dogs” and other notably awful kids movies, back in the day.
MPA Rating: unrated, profanity
Cast: Bradley Gosnell, Daniel Floren, Mia Marcon
Credits: Directed by Raja Gosnell, Alicia Joy LeBlanc, script by Bradley Gosnell, Daniel Floren, based on their play. A Freestyle release.
Running time: :58