Every so often, I see a trailer for something indie and maybe weird. Them That Follow looked like a movie about a small, remote mountain community of snake-handlers. It had Olivia Colman (straight off her Oscar win) and Walton Goggins (straight off Ant-Man and the Wasp). One of the two leads from the recent Booksmart is there, as is stand-up comic Jim Gaffigan. The cast alone caught my attention, and none of those folks plays the lead character.
Oh, and I was the only one there for the screening. That’s always cool.
Mara Childs (Alice Englert) is a young woman with a dilemma. She lives in a small, traditional, close-knit community of snake-handlers. Her father Lemuel (Goggins) is the pastor. He, and the rest of the community, wants her to marry the pious Garret (Lewis Pullman). Garret is, for lack of a better word, harmless. He’ll take the fall for the community when the authorities come by looking to confiscate the church’s rattlesnakes. He’s a quiet believer. For what it is worth, Mara herself also believes in the church’s teachings.
On the other hand, she has strong feelings for Augie (Thomas Mann). He’s a non-believer, the son of two of the more devout members of the community (Colman and Gaffigan). The only thing really keeping Augie around is his feelings for Mara. Since he has those feelings, he may even try going back to the church.
In many ways, this was a quiet movie. Mara never says out loud what her dilemma is as Englert uses her face to show her emotional turmoil. Goggins and Colman are both committed to their respective characters. Character actions show what the community believes more than dialogue in many cases, as when Lemuel chastises Mara for driving his truck. That said, the longer the movie goes, the more predictable it becomes. There are no real surprises here because it isn’t that sort of movie. Mara’s ultimate decision is the one the movie telegraphs as the right one. As such, it shouldn’t be a surprise since the plot isn’t the point here.
Truthfully, I would argue this is more of an acting showcase with writer/directors Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage looking more to create mood than anything else. That mood is only partially achieved, but the acting is rather good all around. I found the movie good, but not great. 8.5 out of 10 dangerous snake images.