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SXSW 2013 Movie Review: ‘Holy Ghost People’
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Holy Ghost People
Director: Mitchell Altieri
Screenwriter: Kevin Artigue & Joe Egender, Mitchell Altieri & Phil Flores
Cast: Emma Greenwell, Brendan McCarthy, Joe Egender, Cameron Richardson, Roger Aaron Brown, Don Harvey, Buffy Charlet, James Lowe, Jayne Entwistle, Jalen Camp

Directed by Mitchell Altieri, Holy Ghost People follows 19-year-old Charlotte (Emma Greenwell) as she infiltrates a snake-handling Pentecostal church in the depths of the Appalachian mountains to find her missing sister with the help of Wayne (Brendan McCarthy), an alcoholic ex-Marine.

Holy Ghost People is no doubt inspired by the 1967 documentary of the same name by Peter Adair. Throughout his film, Altieri uses clips from Adair’s film, which explored the behaviors of a small Pentecostal church in Scrabble Creek, West Virginia, including faith healing, snake handling, and speaking (and singing) in tongues.

Altieri’s narrative, however, fails to be the disturbing, unsettling account that Adair presents in his documentary. This “psychological thriller” takes a pretty great premise and confounds it with subpar performances, and a script that often feels like a first draft.

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