December 11, 2023
by Carla Hay
Directed by Darin Scott
Culture Representation: Taking place in the 5th century in the Americas, the action film “The Oath” (inspired by the Book of Mormon and based on the short film “Reign of Judges”) features a cast of white and Native American characters representing the working-class and middle-class.
Culture Clash: A Hebraic fugitive named Moroni fights to save the history of Israel as he is hunted by a ruthless king.
Culture Audience: “The Oath” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of faith-based movies, no matter how amateurish the filmmaking is.
“The Oath” is a faith-based movie about Judeo-Christian historical people, but this tedious drama is actually very soulless. The characters, story and filmmaking are woefully generic, while the acting performances are dismally substandard. The story is told in a jumbled way and becomes a very misguided and dull movie.
Darin Scott is the co-writer, director and star of “The Oath,” which also has Scott as one of the movie’s producers. If that sounds like a vanity project, it comes across that way in “The Oath,” which is based on Scott’s short film “Reign of Judges.” It looks like no one stepped in to tell Scott that “The Oath” is a very incoherent and sloppily made movie that needed a serious overall in almost every way. Michelle Scott co-wrote “The Oath” screenplay.
“The Oath” (which is inspired by the Book of Mormon) begins with the statement that a legend tells of an ancient grudge, where two brothers from Egypt had a feud that sparked an ancient war between the Nephites and Lamanites. After a millennium of war, only one Nephite remains. Most of the story takes place in the 5th century, somewhere in the Americas. (“The Oath” was actually filmed in upstate New York.)
Moroni (played by Darin Scott) is a Hebraic loner living in the woods. He meets a battered woman named Bathsheba (played by Nora Dale), who is pregnant and who has escaped from her abuser. Bathsheba is a Lamanite and is surprised to find out that Moroni knows the Lamanite language. Moroni says his father taught him.
Through a monotonous series of events, Moroni and Bathsheba find some writings about the Lamanite/Nephite war and about the birth of Israel, a land that Moroni tells Bathsheba is “our common birthright.” He also tells her, “I can show you a life you’ve never known: freedom.” This type of simplistic dialogue clogs up the entire movie.
It should come as no surprise that Bathsheba and Moroni fall in love. It’s a “romance” that looks very phony in the movie because co-stars Darin Scott and Dale just do not have believable chemistry with each other. The love scenes have all the passion of staring at a blank piece of paper.
It isn’t long before Moroni and Bathsheba are being hunted by the murderous King Aaron (played by a very miscast Billy Zane), who is aided by a warrior named Mahigana (played by Karina Lombard) and a sidekick named Cohor (played by Eugene Brave Rock). Expect to see too many nonsensical scenes where Moroni and Bathsheba try to evade their hunters, occasionally encounter them, escape, get lost, and all the usual things that a weak-plotted movie does to stretch its unjustified feature-length running time.
It all leads up to an inevitable showdown, which is as hokey and badly choreographed as you think it will be, considering the low quality of the rest of the movie. The acting performances in “The Oath” are more wooden than the trees in the woods where these characters wander around like people stuck in a terrible maze. “The Oath” might have been made with very good intentions, but one of those intentions clearly was not learning how to make a good movie.
Freestyle Digital Media released “The Oath” in U.S. cinemas on December 8, 2023. The movie will be released on digital and VOD on March 26, 2024.