Holy Ghost People (NR)

February 21, 2014
By Rob Staeger
Of all the sins a cinematic flock can forgive its preacher, vanity tops the list. While the backwoods congregation of the Church of One Accord dresses in worn overalls and faded dresses, snake-handling Brother Billy (Joe Egender, who co-wrote the screenplay) testifies in front, pomaded and bursting with rockabilly charisma, a lone primary color in a washed-out sea of pastel. Into that sea wade Charlotte and Wayne (Emma Greenwell and Brendan McCarthy), a guilt-ridden bartender and the alcoholic ex-Marine she has enlisted to help her look for her sister, an addict last heard from as part of Brother Billy's flock. McCarthy, shaky as Wayne tries to kick the bottle, draws us in, but Egender has the plum role. His Brother Billy constantly surprises, whether it's a viper-quick grab of a cigarette or a quiet confession of a love of Neil Young music. Charlotte, unfortunately, remains something of a cipher, despite a series of explicating voiceovers. Director Mitchell Altieri helms the thriller with a sure hand, although his experience as one of horror's "Butcher Brothers" peeks out with the use of the Lost Boys anthem "Cry Little Sister" on the soundtrack. It feels like a cheat, a garish jab at an emotional button, which sacrifices authenticity for a higher high.

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