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Movie Review: The Cokeville Miracle Transforms Terrifying Hostage Situation Into a Witness of God’s Love

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The Cokeville MiracleThe Cokeville Miracle, the latest offering from beloved LDS filmmaker T.C. Christensen, is achingly real, but will leave the viewer feeling empowered and hopeful.

Depicting the 1986 Cokeville Elementary School hostage crisis, the film shows the madness that occurred when a man and his wife detonated a bomb inside a room holding every teacher and student in the school, and the miracles that followed. At the heart of the story is Ron Hartley, the local Sheriff who finds his ongoing crisis of faith heightened when his children, who were inside the classroom, begin giving accounts of heavenly intervention.

The fact that all of the teachers and children survived the bombing, which experts said should have leveled the entire school, is just the beginning of the story.

In a world where violence in schools is all too real and miraculous endings to such situations are few and far between, Christensen and his team expertly handle the story with sensitivity and care. The film smartly depicts the miracles related by the children, teachers, and experts after the fact, using the last quarter of the film to replay the hostage situation in small snippets as Hartley gathers accounts of what happened.  By doing so, the terror and shock of the original scene is slowly transformed until a powerful and beautiful witness of God’s love rises from the ashes of the burned classroom.

Such is the power of The Cokeville Miracle. It reminds us even our darkest experiences can be exalted by faith and prayer.

This positive message wouldn’t be nearly as powerful if not for the performances of Christensen’s talented cast. Standout performances include Jasen Wade as Ron Hartley and Nathan Stevens as David Young. These two male leads, on opposite ends of the end of the story as the father and the bomber respectively, bring a strange sense of harmony to the film as Stevens chillingly captures the dark descent of true madness while Wade struggles with and ultimately lifts us from the madness of doubt and skepticism.

Also notable is the film’s visual effects by Tanner Christensen. From an exploding school bus to the bomb’s eventual detonation inside the school, the effects are powerful and realistic. The Cokeville Miracle depicts scenes of violence and gun use, and may not be suitable for young audiences.

The Cokeville Miracle is set to be released in limited theaters on June 5, 2015. For more information on a wider release, keep checking the film’s official Facebook page.


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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.


  1. Thank you for the wonderful review. My husband is a survivor and our family was privileged to be extras in this movie. Also, we were able to be at the screening for the survivors. We did not take our children to that screening as we were told that the movie would most likely be rated PG-13 and we choose not to let our children watch PG-13 movies. The movie was not at all what I was expecting. It was AMAZING! I expected to have much more focus on the tragedy and the effects on those who survived, but instead came away inspired. My husband and I both looked at each other and knew that our children needed to see this movie. Of our 5 children, our 11 year old, 9 year old and 7 year old will be able to go and see because this movie did not focus on the tragedy, but instead focused on miracles and I believe needs to be seen all across America!

    • Thank you for your review. There was a school shooting in our community of Chardon, Ohio, in 2012, and I wondered if this movie would be too difficult to watch. After reading your review, I definitely want to see it.

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