The House of God is a short film by brothers Ben and Schuyler Hernstrom. It tells the story of Michael Lindström, a working class everyman, who loses his job in the recession and begins to have trouble dealing with the realities of poverty and urban decline. Inspired by our childhood, growing up through the 70s, 80s and early 90s in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, The House of God examines the emotional, psychological and physical effects of living in a community in decline.

Michael Lindström’s story is a journey. His job disappears in the recession. His sister, Anna, his closest and perhaps only real friend is transferred to Philadelphia when the hospital closes. Collapsing under the weight of the directionless time that the newly unemployed often have, he explores his environments with new curiosity. In the forests of south western Pennsylvania, nestled between post-industrial landscapes and beleaguered communities, he searches for something. Hopes for something. And in fact, there is something there. Just what that something is will change him forever.

A nod to our Scandinavian heritage, the natural world in The House of God is both a rich source of life and terrible force. With inspirations from Nordic folktales to contemporary writings like Halldór Laxness’ Independent People, we examine the natural world without simplification or glamorization. It is pure in a way, unfettered by our designs, our successes or failures but that purity is not to be confused with gentility. This world demands respect and to ignore its demands is to live in peril. Yet, pushed onward by his dislocation and apparent lack of meaningful alternatives, Michael is determined to discover its truths.

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