A terrifying new thriller about "a series of cataclysmic events and enemies foretold by biblical end-times prophecies" is set to give audiences an entirely different look at what could happen if the rapture actually comes to fruition.
Casey La Scala, the Hollywood writer, producer and director behind films like "Donnie Darko," "A Walk to Remember" and next year's haunted thriller "Amityville," is preparing for the release of "The Remaining," a suspenseful look at the deadly and traumatic events accompanying the end times.
The movie, which La Scala wrote and directed, centers on a group of friends in the midst of celebrating a wedding when scores of their family and friends mysteriously perish and destruction rages all around them.
Though it's an invigorating, entertaining and fast-paced thriller, La Scala told TheBlaze that he's also hoping that the movie encourages audiences to think deeply about the personal and theological themes within it.
"I want [the audience] to take away this idea of [considering] where are they right now — where are we with the people we love, where are we in our lives?," he said. "That feeling that life can disappear at the blink of an eye. You don't know when it's going to happen ... life could end at any moment."
La Scala continued, "Have you settled the things you need to say? Have you made decisions with faith?"
The film takes a darker tone than other end-times thrillers like "Left Behind" — and isn't afraid to show some of the more overt and graphic details of the end-times pandemonium that many believe will unfold one day.
And rather than Christians' spirits and bodies disappearing simultaneously with piles of clothes and earthly items left behind, La Scala's version of the rapture consists of people lifelessly dropping to the ground, with their eyes terrifyingly and vacantly glazing over — an instantaneous, mass spiritual disappearance.
Rich Peluso, senior vice president Affirm Films, the faith-based film label at Sony Pictures, explained in a video why the filmmakers chose to offer a very different visual representation of the rapture.
"In really diving into the word 'paralambano' — the Greek word ... what's interesting is that same word is used when the angel tells Joseph about Mary — 'Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife,'" Peluso said of scripture. "So obviously to take her ... is not to make her disappear. It's another shade of this word, to bring someone into yourself — to receive them."
So while the filmmakers were open to the notion that an individual's body might disappear during the rapture, the Greek word's translation provided an opening to portray the event in a different way than in the past.
And for anyone worrying that it isn't biblical, La Scala, who is a Christian, said believers shouldn't worry.
"I went through the Bible. It's biblically accurate," he told TheBlaze of the film. "I used the timeline. And that was one of those things that was interesting. I could have made a completely different film if I didn't make it biblically accurate."
The director said it was important to him that the movie was able to withstand evangelical debate and critique, while holding the ability to crossover as a film that could be enjoyed by all audiences.
La Scala said that the plot for "The Remaining" came from a very personal experience with his dying father, with whom he didn't have a great relationship as a child. As he watched his dad grapple with spiritual themes and with the damaged relationships in his life, La Scala said he was personally impacted.
Later, he began spending some time with individuals who created the "Paranormal Activity" film series and started exploring end-times themes, setting the roots for "The Remaining."
"I started thinking of a global 'Paranormal Activity' and then I started thinking about when I was a young Christian going to church camp these counselors would tell us these stories of tribulation," he said. "And I remember how scary it was. I always had visions of Jesus coming down from the clouds. All of these things kind of came together and I started thinking about the rapture and what an interesting point of departure it would be."
Those elements mixed with the personal and relational struggles among the film's central characters helped La Scala bring the story to life.
As for what he thinks about the plausibility of the rapture coming to fruition, La Scala said he believes that it "could possible happen."
"With Ebola, with all of the things that are happening in the news, global warming, viruses heading in this very strange direction — it's not just now people seeing it in the news, people are feeling it," he said. "This foreboding of whats happening in the human race."
"The Remaining" will open in 17 cities Sept. 5.