"Heaven's Rain" is more than just a movie which focuses on the true tragic events of a family destroyed by a horrific crime 30 years in the past. In a remarkable turn, Oklahoma state senator Brooks Douglass stars as his own father who was brutally killed in a 1979 home intrusion.
A 16-year-old Brooks Douglass, who was also shot in the attack and left for dead, had to deal with the emotional trauma of the event for years. By co-writing the screenplay, and starring as his own father, who was a minister, he also relived the traumatic night when both of his parents were murdered and his sister abused in a night that changed his life forever.
In real life, Brooks not only survived, but testified against the two men who were found guilty of the horrific crime. Triggerman Glen Burton Ake' two death sentences were reduced to life sentences on retrial, while his accomplice and getaway driver, Steven Keith Hatch, was executed in 1996.
Taryn Manning, who plays sister Leslie Douglass in the movie, tells PopcornBiz that Brooks decision to play his own father, especially through the horrific crime scene, "was bold and courageous."
In the retelling of the crime scene, the family is tied and left helpless on the living room floor through the horrific crime. It's a tough scene to watch. But shooting the scene made for one "intense" night of movie-making, says Manning.
"The whole family were hogtied in real life. We went through that whole scene as well with Brooks tied up and playing his Dad," says Manning. "It was very surreal and bizarre to be there with him during this."
The torturous scene just proves that Brooks "really loved his father."
But more than about the terrible crime, the movie centers around faith and forgiveness -- and the grown children's attempt to put the night behind them years later. While Brooks was an Oklahoma state senator and passed victim's rights legislation in the state, going through the experience again on film might have helped him find a new sense of peace.
"I just hope Brooks and Leslie can get their closure and maybe by telling their story and hearing the people's reaction to the film, and hearing how it moves people that will be possible," says Manning. "I hope it gives them closure in their life."
Leslie was not involved with the film and was wary about retelling the story in a movie. But she told Manning at the film's Los Angeles premiere that she was touched by the portrayal. "I hugged her. She said that I did a great job playing her," says Manning. "That hug was so important. I just wanted to do her justice."
"Heaven's Rain" is opening in select markets and will continue to roll out across the country.