When her sister falls in with a group of religious fanatics known as The Church of One Accord Charlotte gets help from a troubled ex-Marine named Wayne to infiltrate the community to find her.
In my opinion there is nothing creepier than scary religious people who are willing to do anything (including torture and murder) in the name of God. Some of these people are sincere in their beliefs and some aren’t, but either way they scare the Hell out of me for a number of reasons (pun not intended). In a nutshell that is what Holy Ghost People is all about. The community (which is loosely based on the 1967 documentary of the same name that was directed by Peter Adair) that appears in the film is made up of devout Christian people in the Appalachian area who enjoy handling poisonous snakes and flogging people with whips in order for them to accept God into their lives. I am from Kentucky and even though I have never witnessed snake handling myself first hand I know that it does occur in some areas of the state to this day. I thought that Holy Ghost People had a lot of heart and that the premise was pretty interesting but in the end I couldn’t help but feel more than a little underwhelmed.
One of the biggest problems that I had with the film was the fact that it tends to drag on at a snail’s pace for most of its running time and I found it to be a little boring. It takes it forever to really get going and even when things do start to happen they aren’t anything special. There are a lot of overly long scenes that could have been trimmed down to make things flow a little better and to be honest I really wanted to skip some of them because they get pretty redundant very quickly. The scenes that take place before Charlotte and Wayne even get to the community are painfully slow and dull and it just more of the same once they finally do arrive there and integrate themselves into the group. I was expecting the pace to pick up and a lot of interesting things to start happening once we meet the members of The Church of One Accord but neither really happens. While some pretty interesting characters do eventually show up (such as Brother Billy, who is the fanatical and just all around unsettling leader of the community) I just wasn’t very impressed overall and felt like the movie was really missing something that would have made it awesome.
For me the movie itself is very hard categorize and in a way I think that its marketing is a bit off. It isn’t really a horror film (as the DVD artwork would have you believe) and I am even hesitant calling it a suspense thriller because to be honest it lacks any real suspense and the thrills are nowhere to be found either. In my opinion it is more of a typical drama than anything else and I was a little surprised by the fact that it was rated R as very little takes place in the film that would merit such a rating (I think that it is more deserving of PG-13).
There isn’t a great deal of violence, no nudity, and even the foul language is pretty minimal. I wasn’t exactly familiar with the movie before I watched it (I hadn’t even seen the trailer for it) but went into it expecting it to be a horror film about some demented religious sect who went around doing all sorts of horrible things in the name of the Lord, but that just wasn’t the case. I really wish that it had been as I would have enjoyed it a lot more and I think that a lot of people who watch it expecting it to be a hardcore horror flick that contains countless brutal murders and other atrocities will feel the same way.
On the flip side the acting is top-notch. Emma Greenwell is very good as Charlotte and does an excellent job bringing the character to life. The same could be said for Brendan McCarthy who does an equally impressive job in the role of Wayne, the troubled, alcoholic guy who didn’t want to have anything to do with going into the community in the first place but at one point comes dangerously close to buying into what they are selling (especially when he finds out Charlotte hasn’t been entirely truthful with him when it comes to a certain subject, which is one of the things that I did like about the film as it is a nice twist). Joe Egender (who also worked on the script) steals the show though as the creepy, mildly sleazy Brother Billy.
There is just something about him that is genuinely creepy and he reminded me of most of the scary religious fanatics that I’ve been exposed to who had no trouble whatsoever hurting-or even killing-others because they thought that it was God’s will. Even though the movie itself is nothing more than lackluster the cast is anything but and if it wasn’t for their hard work and great performances I would have very little positive things to say about this film in general.
Holy Ghost People isn’t terrible but it just wasn’t for me. I don’t think that I was the right audience for it and as a result I had a lot of trouble really getting into it and enjoying it. I didn’t know until after I watched it that the Butcher Brothers (Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores, who were behind the very awesome flick The Hamiltons) had a hand in writing a directing it and I couldn’t help but feel a little let down as I think that their previous outings were much better when compared to this movie. Check it out if it sounds like something that you would be into but keep in mind that it most likely isn’t going to be what you expect it to be.