William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor and the like had it right. When you take people somewhere off the beaten track and stoke a religious fervor in them, strange things can happen. You don't even need to go off the beaten track to find it, in many cases. Back in my college days - when I was completing a degree in religious studies - Toronto was caught up in an extreme charismatic movement with services at certain well known and well populated churches filled every night of the week with scores of people writhing on the floor, barking like dogs, speaking in non-existent languages etc.
Though my own church background was far different I attended a few times to witness these things first hand - a good friend intended to do an anthropological study of those who experienced 'miracles' at the epicenter church of the movement as his master's thesis at one point - and left feeling oddly conflicted. Because while it may very well be misguided and may very well be fueled by heightened emotion over all else, I have no doubt at all that for at least the vast majority of those involved this is no act. Whatever you may think the origins are, these people are experiencing something, and it's something both powerful and outside of their control.
It's a fascinating phenomenon and one that director Mitchell Altieri is tapping into with his Holy Ghost People, a thriller set within one of the oldest and most American of all the charismatic movements: The snake-handling churches of the south.
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...
We were proud to premiere the first stills for Holy Ghost People and now the first trailer has arrived as well. Check it below.