John Barnhardt wanted to make an inspiring movie.

So he decided on a story about hope.

Naturally, it was a horror flick.

About the world’s cataclysmic end.

The Man Who Shot God, to premiere at the American Theatre on Dec. 14 at 7 and 9 p.m., took only 18 days to shoot but a year to plan, edit, and produce. It’s 105 minutes long, a full feature length, and it boasts well-known Charleston actors Chad Curry, Daniel Jones, Warrick Blandford, and Kurt Walker.

They plays characters who, Barnhardt says, lose faith in God, hope or whatever. The point is, they’ve abandoned any reason to believe in something beyond the material, to hold dear things they can’t touch and see. As an apparent apocalypse ensures around them, the foursome must regain hope — or die.

Like figures in T.S. Eliot’s “Hollow Men,” Barnhardt says, they must find their souls.

Plus, the movie’s totally awesome.

“It has the look of a million-dollar movie,” Barnhardt says.

As an instructor in the film and TV department at Trident Technical College, Barnhardt was inspired by a religious friend who, on the same day, learned of his father’s death and his wife’s infidelity. When asked afterward if he were still a religious man, Barnhardt’s friend said no. He had lost his faith.

With this in mind, Barnhardt aimed to make a movie about losing faith and hope without necessarily being a religious film. And because of this aim for universal appeal, Barnhardt believes there will be interest in The Man Who Shot God beyond Charleston. He’s secured commitments from a distribution company and plans to enter the film in numerous international film festivals.

With a mixture of business savvy and cultural sensitivity, Barnhardt says there has been an increase in demand for the thriller and horror genres since Sept. 11. Such titles as 28 Days Later, The Mist, and I Am Legend, Barnhardt says, reflect the anxiety Americans feel in general since the terror attacks of 2001. He says his movie will similarly express people’s fear of an impending Armageddon, but feels that audiences will find comfort in The Man Who Shot God’s implicit message of hope in the future.

“This is a freaked-out world,” he says. “A lot of people feel like this is the end of the world.”