Movie Review: Them That Follow (2019)

I hate snakes. They’re the worst. I see a snake on tv or in a movie, I crawl into a ball on the couch. The worst. So let’s talk about a movie featuring them (I’m dumb).

Ladies and gents… “Them That Follow”.

Set within the deep woods of Appalachia, we follow Mara (Alice Englert), a young woman who is the daughter of the local snake-handling preacher (Walton Goggins). She carries a secret with her that, if released into the world, could potentially cause some trouble within her community. So now we have our backwoods story. And while I do have some little niggles with it, I generally thought it was pretty interesting. It’s like a window into this strange, archaic community, presenting them with a surprisingly nuanced view, rather than the typical “These cult-ish people are crazy monsters” angle that often get used within stories featuring similar characters/communities. Yes, we still get shown the angle that these people are ye olde backwoods christians… but it’s never as simple as them just being a cult, there is rarely pure judgment, but rather just observation, which I thought was interesting, especially as the movie went along and more revelations were unleashed. Now, despite this unusually intriguing execution, it’s unfortunately not perfect. It does feel flimsy at times, probably due to the short runtime (circa 95 minutes). Had they had more time, we probably could’ve had it even more fleshed out. But as it stands, it’s still an alright plot that kept me interested throughout.

The characters, while not the deepest in the world, are still pretty engaging. Alice Englert plays Mara, the young woman at the center of the story. She’s probably the deepest one in the story, as she’s highly conflicted about a lot of stuff going on in her life at the time, which makes her a really interesting character to follow. And Englert is really good in the role. Then we have Walton Goggins as her father, preacher Lemuel Childs. He’s a man of god… and nope ropes. He doesn’t get much development as a character, but he’s still quite engaging because Goggins is such an electrifying presence. Then we have Olivia Colman as Hope, a matriarch of sorts within this community. There is some conflict with her later on in the movie, which I won’t spoil in case you wanna watch the movie, but I’ll say that while it’s an okay idea, the overall execution of that is just fine. And while Colman’s southern drawl is somewhat hit-and-miss, her overall performance is great. We also get supporting work from people like Thomas Mann, Kaitlyn Dever, Lewis Pullman, and Jim Gaffigan, all giving good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Garth Stevenson, and I felt that it was kind of a mixed bag. Sometimes it’s this nice, almost dreamlike thing that fits the southern, spiritual setting, really adding some nice atmosphere to the movie. Buuuut then there are some overbearing horror drones throughout too, and I felt like that took me out of it during those moments. I can tell that Stevenson has a lot of talent, but there are times when they aren’t applied correctly.

“Them That Follow” is the writing/directing debut of duo Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage, and I think they did an okay job with it. They have a way of keeping scenes engaging thanks to a unique sense of energy that may have a slow flow, but still makes sure scenes never get boring. And when they need to get a bit suspenseful, they god damn nail it… except when the aforementioned horror score bits come on, then shit clashes a bit.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 60% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,2/10.

While far from one of the greatest movies ever, I still thought “Them That Follow” was a really good drama. It has a pretty good plot, okay characters, great performances, okay music, and good directing. As previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by a sometimes shallow plot and poor musical score. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Them That Follow” is a 7,95/10. So while flawed, it’s absolutely worth renting.

My review of “Them That Follow” is now completed.

Damn snakes.

Movie Review: Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

I was gonna do a joke about a priest walking into a bar, but I couldn’t come up with a good punchline. So let’s just get into the review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Bad Times at the El Royale”.

The late 1960s. On the border between California and Nevada lies the El Royale, a snazzy-looking motel. And on one fateful day, a group of strangers all decide to book rooms there, all of them carrying some secret. And we follow them as they get tangled up in the most insane night of their lives. The plot here jumps around a lot, partly in showing how all the characters got to the El Royale, and partly to show all the different perspectives on certain events that go down at the motel. And this could get messy and convoluted if put in the wrong hands. But I think that it was handled very well here. I like that they really took their time to tell this story. It’s intriguing, suspenseful, fun, pulpy, and just overall entertaining.

The characters here are colorful, unique, layered, flawed, and just overall really interesting. And that’s all you’ll get out of me. I won’t go any more in-depth on any of them, as that would be really tough without accidentally spoiling stuff. So let’s just list the cast. Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Lewis Pullman, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Michael Giacchino, and it was really good. It does lean into the pulp angle I mentioned earlier, which really helps sell the movie’s vibe while still adding to the sense of tension and drama. There’s also a fair bit of licensed tracks used throughout, and not only are they really good on their own, but they also work incredibly well within their respective scenes.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” was written and directed by Drew Goddard, who I think did a great job with it. He gives the movie a very slick style that makes it feel somewhat unique, without sacrificing any of the pulpy suspense that is built up through the story, characters, and music. And the cinematography by Seamus McGarvey is pretty stellar, giving us some really great looking shots throughout the movie.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” is something that I can easily tell will polarize audiences. But I thought it was great. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Bad Times at the El Royale” is a 9,71/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Bad Times at the El Royale” is now completed.

Good times, bad times, you know I had my share…