“Satan's shedding big boy tears tonight.” - Brother Billy (Joe Egender)
Fuck yeah! now this is my kinda movie, its a slow burning slice of Southern Americana set in the beautiful Appalachian mountains of Tennessee. Charlotte (Emma Greenwell) with the help of an hired alcoholic wingman Wayne (Brendan McCarthy) tries to fathom out why her loving sister would turn her back on their family. Turns out she disappeared after joining a pentecostal baptist community church run by a creepy snake wrangling pastor named Brother Billy (Joe Egender).
Influenced by a 1967 B&W documentary of the same name, that I was lucky enough to stumble over a few years ago while doing a 'Docs of March' themed month here on letterboxd (so wish I'd have had the time to do one of those this year). Filmmaker Mitchell Altieri (of the Butcher Brothers) slyly steps away from the horror genre with 'Holy Ghost People'. But kept things so dark and brooding, nobody noticed this wasn't an horror movie. Altieri shows a lot of maturity and restraint here. With the story being relatively skeleton boned, the film instead relies entirely on its intense atmosphere. Which is helped immensely by its earthy gospel, delta blues & rock soundtrack, and the superb casting of its central characters. Joe Egender's perfect as the crazed pastor. Emma Greenwell's mighty purtty and vulnerable as Charlotte and Brendan McCarthy as Wayne made a totally believable alcoholic. It'll no doubt be too cheaply made, or not follow typical Hollywood plot conventions enough for the masses to embrace. But I'm darn glad I caught it because its a great little movie.
[Personal Reasons For Remembering]
No question Joe Egender's performance stole the movie, rare to see a young actor with the ability to keep up the intensity while showing so much poise. The soundtrack was another highpoint, especially Heather Baker's version of the Lost Boys classic Cry Little Sister.
Originally taken from Letterboxd