Last week we got a review request for "The Faith Community". We always love to watch indie movies and I decided that I was going to take this one. "The Faith Community" is a so-called found footage film. As far as I'm concerned "The Blair Witch Project" (1999) is the mother of this kind of movies. When this movie hit the cinemas the whole world seemed to be captured by the story of three students that went into Black Hill Woods , to make a documentary about the legend of the 'Blair Witch'. The ingenuity of the movie was the fact that no one seemed to know if it was the actual footage of a true story. The makers of the movie made good use of the rising power of the internet, while promoting the movie. When I read the story of "The Faith Community" I found some similarities with "The Blair Witch Project". It's also a found footage film about three students that go into the woods to make a documentary about their stay at Camp Nazareth.. The purpose of their stay is to form a closer bond with God. Another similarity is the promotion on internet. The makers launched fake propaganda videos of the camp and even launched a website for Camp Nazareth with posts going back to October 2014.
The story of and behind the movie
"The Faith Community" takes us into the woods of Maryland. We follow three students, that are part of a Christian Collective, on their way to attend a bible retreat in Quiet Brook forest. They intend to make a documentary of their stay to inspire other people to 'join them in their mission to serve as God's messengers'. Hannah (Janessa Floyd) is the president of the Campus Christian Collective; a religious club that studies the word of God. She is joined by Andrew (Aidan Hart) and cameraman Colin (Jeffrey Brabant), who seems to be pretty critical about the whole faith thing (he does a lot of cursing). When they arrive at their destination they are greeted by a group of people and their leader, The Messenger It seems to be a pretty jolly group and they all wear the same t-shirt of the camp.
Once they get out of the car it becomes clear that the faith of The Messenger is very overwhelming. After a short introduction the group is led into the forest and they encounter some strange crosses. The cynical cameraman Colin asks The Messenger about this, but he responds very evasive. When they get to the camp it turns out that it's very basic, just some tents and a cooking place. Apparently this is not how it was depicted on the website. But the group accepts it for how it is and Colin starts interviewing people from the camp.Little by little he finds out that there is a lot more going on and that they find themselves in in the belly of a twisted religious cult.
"The Faith Community" is directed/produced by Faith Johnson and Robert A. Trezza from Vicious Apple Productions and was shot in Friendsville (Maryland) in about 4 days. The actors all have a theater background and a history of working together, which helped the whole project flow very smoothly. The producer mentions they wanted to make a POV (point of view) movie that is about the story and not just about "eerie footage and jump scares".
I have been watching some independent movies and I must say that usually the sound is an issue. It's very hard to get into a story when the sound in the movie is not good (especially in a pov movie). Well, I have to say that the makers of "The Faith Community" did an amazing job on this front. The sound of the dialogues is very clear and this helps you get into the story of the students. So what about the acting in the movie? Although the movie is scripted, the actors succeed in making it feel like you are watching a true documentary. Especially Jeremy Harris does a great job in portraying The Messenger, the flamboyant and disturbed leader of the cult. He succeeds in portraying a man, who is constantly on the edge of spinning out of control. I also really like the character of Mike (Oliver Palmer). Through interviews with the cult members it turns out that Mike is a war veteran. He got dishonorably discharged after killing one of his own men. In the scene where Colin interviews Michael it becomes horribly clear that something is terribly off the hook in the camp. Palmer does a good job in giving this scene that extra creepy touch. The only thing that I found a bit off is the setting of the movie. I find it very strange that a group as secluded as this cult, can survive in the forest for such a long time in such basic circumstances. They only have basic tents and it's not clear how they get food and drinks. Same goes for their impeccable hygiene. Despite of this I enjoyed watching "The Faith Community" and if you are into the "found footage" movies, you should definitely check this out.