'Them That Follow'
(Kaitlyn Dever, Olivia Colman, Walton Goggins, Thomas Mann, Lewis Pullman, et al / DVD / R / 2019 / Lionsgate Films)
Overview: Set deep in the wilds of Appalachia, where believers handle death-dealing snakes to prove themselves before God, a pastor's daughter holds a secret that threatens to tear her community apart.
DVD Verdict: For those not yet in the know, 'Those That Follow' is a quite beautiful and deeply felt look into a small subculture of America; charismatic Christian religious cults which revolve around the handling of poisonous snakes.
It is not an expose by any means, please understand that going in for each person is acting from sincere emotions and beliefs, however misguided they may appear to most of us. For instance, they reject modern medical care, preferring to rely on the Holy Ghost to heal people.
As in 'Witness' years ago, the cohesion of the group is the predominant factor in all aspects of the lives of its members. The story focuses on the daughter of the charismatic preacher. She is a strong believer, and yet is attracted to a youth who has rejected the religion.
The movie is superbly acted, with Oscar winner Olivia Colman, the always memorable Walton Goggins as the preacher, and Kaitlyn Devers from the TV show 'Justified'.
With that said, Olivia Colman is outstanding, but that's no surprise since she won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in 'The Favourite.'
What is surprising is how she has transformed into a backwoods store owner and community matriarch with a southern twang. She's truly amazing.
Walton Goggins is the perfect southern pastor in his role as Lemuel. He's creepy and sincere at the same time. Australian actress Alice Englert gives a subtle, but powerful performance.
Kaitlyn Dever was great in 'Booksmart' - although I hated that movie - and her character is the polar opposite here in this movie; furthermore attesting to her talent.
The movie was filmed in Youngstown and Salem, Ohio although the story is supposed to take place in Appalachia. I love symbolism. The snakes in this movie are real, but they also represent the first "sin" of Adam and Eve., as well as being deceived, of course.
So yeah, this film is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, trust me in this. Many will say that nothing really happens and that it's boring. It's always a bit odd to see comedian Jim Gaffigan in dramatic movies.
Don't get me wrong as I absolutely love his stand-up comedy specials. The first time I saw him in a drama was in the movie 'Chappaquiddick' and he actually has some really dark roles upcoming too.
Anyway, I'm not saying he doesn't do a good job in dramas. He does. It always just throws me off. Good for him for being such a versatile performer regardless.
In closing, 'Them That Follow' does feature elements of terror, but that is not the main theme. It's a love story. A coming of age story. An insight into a real, but generally unknown sect. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:
Cast Interviews with Alice Englert, Thomas Mann and Walton Goggins.