I have to say right from the start I had a hard time watching THE FAITH COMMUNITY. Not because of anything in it’s content but because this may be the shakiest film in the history of found footage. While I don’t particularly like shaky cam footage it usually doesn’t affect me. This was so bad I ended up with a headache.
The plot follows three students, Hannah (Janessa Floyd), Colin (Jeffrey Brabant), and Andrew (Aidan Hart) who head out to a bible retreat at Camp Nazareth. Hannah and Andrew are committed Christians, Colin is the skeptic in the group. They find it’s nothing like it was advertised, just a few tents in the woods inhabited by the charismatic yet chilling Messenger (Jeremy Harris) and his handful of followers. The two believers start to fall under his spell while Colin realizes there’s something very sinister going on.
The setup is good, something of a cross between Ti West’s THE SACRAMENT and the documentary JESUS CAMP on an incredibly low budget. The fact that there really are cults like this out there gives it a creepy edge to begin with. This is amplified by Harris’s performance as The Messenger, Always smiling like a used car salesman, or more aptly, The Joker. His performance gives THE FAITH COMMUNITY a real sense of menace. Sadly the rest of the acting is nowhere near as good, Hannah’s long rambling monologue near the film’s end is so overacted it’s almost comedy. Also, the excessive shaky cam makes it hard to tell just what is going on at times. This is obviously not a good thing.
Director Faith R. Johnson does manage to pull off a few scenes that show the extremism of the cultists such as when Michael (Oliver Palmer), says “War brings you closer to God.” and means it. It’s a look at religious extremism of the home grown Christian kind, and the difference between believers like the student and fanatics. It’s a pity THE FAITH COMMUNITY’s message is diluted by it’s presentation.
Found footage fans will no doubt handle the cinematography better than I did. They’ll also find the film’s message more effective for that reason. Others who can get past the extreme shakiness might enjoy it as well. For me though it was a painful experience.