This directorial debut from Dan Madison Savage & Britt Poulton goes in deep on character, but never achieves the desired heights of thrilling captivation it so needs to reflect the spirituality, snaking throughout the story.
Living within a remote wooded community are followers of a religious group led by Lemuel Childs (Walton Goggins), who believe the ways of snakes are communications from the Lord. Lemuel’s daughter Mara (Alice Englert) harbours a secret which goes against everything the faith stands for.
The opening which sees Mara and her friend Dilly (Kaitlyn Dever) walking a long, winding road before hitching a ride to a local store raises creepy suspense in the what if realm of possibilities. The potential for a dark kidnapping or burst of horror lurk on the fringes of, not just this moment but the entire film; yet sadly that punch of something gripping never actually comes to fruition.
‘Them That Follow’ instead becomes an almost dreary drama trying to be a thriller with talk of church and illicit romance. The backwater location looks the part but the majority of the plot is forgettable and dull. There’s this great feeling whilst watching the story that it’ll come to a halfway point and achieve a worthy payoff and hit a late, but welcome stride but that dream is shattered and all you receive is a waste of time.
True, your skin will crawl at times, especially if you suffer with ophidiophobia; the fear of snakes. It’s also true to say that the nature of this slippery, serpent-fuelled belief makes you on edge. The senses will rattle because their unbroken bond to a dangerous religion sees them go and make bold choices, even if that spells doom but aside from some desperate acts of testing faith in the final portion, this is a slow-moving creature with no flickering tongue of intrigue or poison bite of thrill.
The character acting is on point and the likes of Goggins, Olivia Colman and lead actor Englert bring you into the world but the less than interesting handling of the story takes you right back out.