The true crime genre has taken off in recent years. In the last few months alone we’ve seen people get duped through online dating (The Tinder Swindler), cheated out of multiple millions by cunning imposters (Inventing Anna) and have their lives put at risk by those employed to save them (Dr. Death).
Very few stories – if any – in the genre have a redemptive thread of faith running through their otherwise tragic plotlines, and that’s what sets Hillsong Channel’s debut feature film Evil Good apart.
Set in the drug-ravaged streets of Phoenix, Arizona, during the late 90s, Evil Good is based on the true story of ex-police detective Victor Escoto.
Victor grew up in the area and spent much of his adulthood trying to build a life beyond the difficult upbringing he experienced. Just as he and his wife Sonia believed they had achieved that, Victor is reassigned to work the precinct, with his life threatened by the cartel.
This sends Victor into a spiral of anxiety and fear, and what results is a gripping drama about how the couple’s faith factored into the threats levelled against them, which were largely unbeknown to the family and how they ultimately came to find out who wanted them dead.
Speaking to Hope 103.2 during the Evil Good Premiere Special, Victor said, “the city of Phoenix at the time was chaos every night”.
“There were drug deals going on on corners, there was gang wars, there was shootings every night, there was homicides – the crime statistics where just out the roof,” he said.
“The drug war was real, it was serious, it was violent and it was deadly.”
One of the reasons Victor wanted to bring the story of this part of his life to the screen was that it exemplified how a relationship with Jesus can help you confront the world’s greatest evils.
Victor wanted to bring this part of his life to the screen because it exemplified how a relationship with Jesus can help you confront the world’s greatest evils.
“The life of a police officer can sometimes be very dangerous,” Victor said.
“But while I was a police officer, I was also a man of faith.
“[My family] were cast into some pretty unpredictable things in our life, and it was really challenging for us to try and keep the faith and press through them.”
“While I was a police officer, I was also a man of faith,” – Evil Good’s Victor Escoto
Sonia added, “we wouldn’t have been able to get through any of our ordeal had we not continued in putting our trust in God and the strength that we drew from Him”.
“I learned so much through this difficult season,” she said.
“There were times it was challenging, but what I took away from it is that God is not the source of fear and confusion, but God is the source of strength and peace, and hope.”
Evil Good also shows us how Victor and Sonia carved out a future for their own family that broke away from the lifestyle they had both been brought up in.
“I grew up in a broken home. My mum was a single mum trying to make the best life for us growing up, and Victor and I resolved early on in our marriage that we were going to do things differently,” Sonia said.
“We were going to raise our kids differently, so that they wouldn’t have to grow up the way we grew up.”
Victor’s childhood was one where he said, “it just didn’t feel right”.
“There was something in my heart that just felt really unconnected, and I just felt really unstable,” he said.
“Everything [Sonia and I] had experienced to that point was really no good, and we didn’t want to continue in that path.
“We were really looking from some generational change.”
Executive Producer and Head of Hillsong Channel Ben Field said the channel chose Evil Good to be their feature film debut because “Victor for me, was – and is – a man of integrity”.
“You could see there was something on his life that [made him] fight for the greater good: he had a cause,” Ben said.
“All of us in this day and age have our challenges to fight for, but when your life is on the line and your back is up against the wall it requires a deeper level of courage and faith.
“We felt that [Evil Good] would inspire viewers and remind them that in times like this, evil does prevail when good men choose to do nothing,” – Head of Hillsong Channel Ben Field
“We felt that [Evil Good] would inspire viewers and remind them that in times like this, evil does prevail when good men choose to do nothing. It’s our responsibility to stand in the gap and fight for what is right.”