THE FAITH COMMUNITY: A Terrifying “Found Footage” Story That Falters
Despite a chilling concept and a serviceable lead performance, The Faith Community still leaves a lot to be desired.
With a low budget at about $100,000 and a limited setting, The Faith Community manages to incite fear with its horrific concept rather than the use of jump scares and CGI monsters. The fact that the film is a “found footage” picture helps add to its bone chilling realism, and it’s also relieving to see a found footage film that doesn’t delve into the supernatural like so many have done these days. But in spite of all that, The Faith Community succeeds solely on its concept since its filmmaking aesthetics that are all over the place make it feel like a glorified student film.
Not All Villains Wear Scary Masks
The Faith Community follows the story of three friends; Hannah (Janessa Floyd), Colin (Jeffrey Brabant), and Andrew (Aidan Hart), who head out to the woods to meet with the leader of a religious cult trying to get closer to God who is referred to only as “The Messenger” (Jeremy Harris). But as Colin, who films the whole experience, learns more about “The Messenger,” he discovers a dark plan that he has in store and tries to warn his friends before it’s too late.
The most horrific thing about The Faith Community is that there are cults like this that exist and there are those who take their worship of God too far. People like “The Messenger” are honestly more terrifying than a zombie stalking people in a hockey mask and a guy haunting people in their dreams in a Christmas sweater. With the sole use of their charisma, they can lure people unsure of their life direction or their beliefs into their sect.
Thankfully, the actor who plays “The Messenger” himself emerges as a major high point for the film. Jeremy Harris brings three-dimensionality to his portrait of a leader who is welcoming at first but as we learn more about him, slowly reveals his enigma and his superiority complex. He believes that he can act as a Messenger to God and anyone who doesn’t share the same beliefs as him is beneath him or will die in the Rapture, an apocalyptic event that will allow Christians to ascend into Heaven while everyone else will perish on Earth.
Where The Film Cannot Be “Saved”
While Harris is excellent, the same can hardly be said for his co-stars. One of them in particular who stuck out like a sore thumb is Janessa Floyd as Hannah, the one member of the main trio who quickly falls under the spell of “The Messenger.” At the very end, she gives this big, revealing monologue that didn’t seem to mesh well with the rest of the film. One reason being that she overdoes her line delivery.
Interestingly, even though we know what the story is, there are times where it’s hard to understand what’s going on due to the excessive use of the “shaky cam” technique, which will make some viewers dizzy. It also doesn’t help that the camera is always very blurry. Thankfully, the camera is very steady during the scenes where Colin is interviewing different cult members because the long takes that focus on the vague responses that the members give to the questions they are asked help create an uneasy feeling.
The scene where “The Messenger” is being interviewed manages to be a highlight as well. In that scene, director Faith R. Johnson does manage to incorporate effective horror techniques like the sound of bugs fluttering as “The Messenger” is speaking and two cult members staring ominously in the background while the interview is taking place. It’s a bit of a shame that similar techniques aren’t used during the other interview sequences because while the responses the cult members give illicit fear, there is still a sameness to those sequences that is slightly frustrating.
It’s also frustrating that the film is way too short. At about 86 minutes, it executes its horrific concept too quickly. As a result, there is little room for character development and no buildup to the horror that takes place at the climax. The only character who gets any sort of development in terms of motivations and personality is “The Messenger.” So, once again, it comes as no surprise that Jeremy Harris is the film’s acting MVP. He’s sinister and manipulative yet he still makes you wish he had his own prequel to figure out why he became so cruel and what drove him to feel superior over those who don’t share his faith.
Conclusion: The Faith Community
In spite of having strong filmmaking moments and a chilling concept, The Faith Community just cannot be saved. It’s all over the place in terms of camera work and performances and could’ve been better if it were more coherent. Nonetheless, its realistic horror may still linger by the time the credits roll.
What is your favorite found footage film? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
The Faith Community is currently out on DVD in the US.
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