The Shack is a 2017 film by Stuart Hazeldine that recently appeared on Netflix. Sam Worthington stars as Mack Phillips, a father mourning the murder of his daughter at the hands of a serial killer. Mack believes that the death is God’s way of paying back Mack’s murder of his sexually abusive father. 

Eager to find answers or exact revenge, Mack answers a mysterious invitation to a shack in the middle of nowhere. Seeing no one at the shack, Mack resolves to kill himself. However, before committing suicide, a mysterious figure leads him to Christianity’s Holy Trinity: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. 

The Shack is based on a fictional novel by William Young detailing the turmoil in his life

The Shack is not a true story. The film is based on William Young’s fictional novel with the same name. 

Young wrote the book to detail the turmoil in his life. William’s struggles started when he was a young boy. His parents moved from Canada to Papua New Guinea to become missionaries. Young had a problematic relationship with his father, who he described as broken. 

In the film, a young Mack had a difficult relationship with his father, which ended after Mack poisoned him. William Young escaped his father by enrolling in boarding school. Unfortunately, bullying and sexual abuse by older boys and the Dani Tribe destroyed his experience in school. He told Oregon Live:

“I had a difficult relationship with my dad, who was very broken before the time I showed up. Sexual abuse was the dominant story of my childhood as early as 5 years old and continued at boarding school where I went when I was 6.”

“Sexual abuse became part of the fabric of my soul,” Young told The Daily Mail

Young stored away his pain in his metaphorical shack and continued to do so as he suffered losses in his life. After marrying his wife, Kim, Young lost his mother-in-law, younger brother, and five-year-old niece. 

William told The New York Post that he raised issues with God and wrote his conversations with God in different places. At the urging of his wife, Young compiled the discussions into a book titled The Shack. He explained:

“I was raising issues and asking questions. There were conversations [with God] about pain, loss, suffering, and being human. There was dialogue. I started having notes, pages, and drafts on backs of napkins and grocery bags of these little conversations, and I piled them all up. I thought, what if I write a story about who’s asking these questions and why,”

William wrote the book for his children and loved ones to understand his relationship with God. The feedback he received encouraged him to publish the book. Twenty-six publishers rejected the book before he self-published it in 2007. It has since sold over 20 million copies.