Wednesday, April 9, 2014

DVD Review: HOLY GHOST PEOPLE (2013) [XLrator Media]

Holy Ghost People (2013)

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The Movie

Cults have been the subject of many horror and thriller films over the years. That probably is because they have existed, and will continue to exist, in real life, and they are something that the "normal" person does not understand; and that's frightening to us. Director Mitchell Altieri (part of the filmmaking duo, The Blood Brothers) knows this, and he uses it to good effect in his latest film, HOLY GHOST PEOPLE.

The synopsis of the film is as follows:
In this psychological thriller, nineteen-year old Charlotte enlists the help of alcoholic ex-Marine Wayne to find her estranged sister who has gone missing deep in the Appalachian Mountains. Their search leads them to the Church of One Accord and an enigmatic snake-handling preacher named Brother Billy, who’s devoted congregation of outcasts knowingly risk injury or death seeking salvation in the Holy Ghost. What Wayne and Charlotte uncover during their time on the mountain - about themselves and the nature of faith - will shake them to their core, as the mystery of Charlotte’s sister and her fate unravels…
HOLY GHOST PEOPLE is Southern Gothic Horror to a tee. Not the kind of horror that features monsters or masked killers, but the kind that holds sway over us by dragging us into a world that is unsettling and unfamiliar to us. Man - and more specifically the things he will do in the name of religion - is the monster and the true horror is the violence that he will carry out on others due to his warped beliefs. 

Admittedly, I was not a huge fan of THE VIOLENT KIND or the APRIL FOOLS' DAY remake, two of Altieri's previous films, so I wasn't sure exactly how HOLY GHOST PEOPLE would sit with me. However, I am a firm believer in giving every film a chance, and I try my hardest to watch before passing judgment. In this case, I am glad for that, because I feel that HOLY GHOST PEOPLE works far better than those films, and I found a lot to like here.

One of the strongest things about the film is its performances. Co-Writer Joe Egender plays the leader of the congregation, Brother Billy, and he is simply fantastic. Though he seems a bit young for the part at first, his performance ultimately fits right up there with the best portrayals of cult leaders that I've seen in recent memory. Brendan McCarthy is also great as Wayne, and he plays the part with the perfect amount of pathos.

Of course, HOLY GHOST PEOPLE isn't perfect. The first act is a little disjointed, and I found myself questioning exactly why it would lead to the place that the film ultimately ends up going. Still, at only 88-minutes, it's not overly drawn out, so it didn't detract much from my enjoyment of the film. The final fifteen minutes or so more than make up for any stumbling along the way; even if they are a bit predictable.

If you're looking for blood and gore, HOLY GHOST PEOPLE will likely disappoint you. However, if you are looking for a trip into the bizarre world of backwoods religious cults and the personalities that they attract, then I recommend you give the film a shot. It's haunting, disturbing, and bleak, but it works.

Movie Score


DVD Extra Features

  • Deleted Scenes (~7 min)
  • Trailer

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