Review of "Them That Follow” by The Headless Critic
Them That Follow – 2019
Production by: Amasia Entertainment, G-BASE
Distribution by: 1091 Media
Deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains tradition runs as deep as faith and family. Pastor Lemuel (Walter Goggins) has heard the calling to take up serpents. In his church when you feel the call, your faith will protect you from the poisonous snakes bite if the Holy Spirt is truly with you. For pastor’s daughter Mara (Alice Englert) a hidden secret tears at her faith and devotion. Torn between what’s expected of her and the man she loves; only her best friend Dilly (Kaitlyn Dever) knows where her true heart lies and even Dilly doesn’t know the secret against God that may rip their church apart.
A wonderful cast that includes Walter Goggins, Olivia Colman, Thomas Mann, second generation actor Lewis Pullman and comedian Jim Gaffigan who impresses in a serious role, make up the feature film directorial debut of Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage who’ve worked well together before in short form. This film is made by its performances and the talented cast comes through at Poulton and Madison’s direction delivering a realistic telling of an overlooked Appalachian secret.
Them That Follow follows a Pentecostal church in the Appalachian Mountains that believe women should wear skirts to their ankles, not wear make-up and they believe in the practice of snake handling to prove your faith. If your faith is strong, God will protect you is the general belief of snake handling churches. It’s a realistic overdramatizing of an interesting true subject that’s worth telling in cinematic form. This religious practice is rare in my personal region of the world. Most people there who do not believe in snake handling tend to overlook it, I assume much like the practice of polygamy among certain sects of the Mormon faith and the people around them who don’t practice it. My bigger issue isn’t the handling of snakes in churches as portrayed in the film; it’s the handling of arranged marriages which is something that to the best of my knowledge hasn’t been practiced by this belief in some time.
With most of Hollywood living out their fantasies on screen, the glitz and glamour of even the most realistic movies aren’t something people outside of the one percent of decamillionaire’s who mostly make these movies or those aspiring to be them can relate to. Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage slow down, telling a personal story involving religion, faith and family that the decamillions of non-decamillionaire’s can relate to. Good writing, good storytelling, good movie.
Available in Select Theaters August 2nd, 2019
3 out of 5 Headless Critics