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Lisbon woods provide perfect setting for film

Thursday, August 15, 2019

“Them That Follow” really defied the odds.

The film, which was shot mostly in the woods and a few homes in the Lisbon and Salem areas, is riveting and moody and beautiful to look at.

But it’s more than just visual. It has a profound message about finding your beliefs and then staying true to them.

The film opened in 195 theaters nationwide on Friday, including Cinema South in Boardman – where it will hold down one screen for at least one more week. As of Sunday, it had grossed just over $100,000.

What makes “Follow” amazing is that it was made for less than $3 million, but still features an incredible cast, cinematography that is starkly beautiful, and a story that stays with you.

Oscar winner Olivia Colman, Walton Goggins and Alice Englert are the trio of actors at the center of the ensemble cast, and all three deserve attention by Hollywood awards voters.

Kaitlyn Dever, Lewis Pullman, Jim Gaffigan and Thomas Mann have the other major roles.

There are no explosions or special effects. But the snakes handled by members of a devout sect of Pentecostals slither to blood-chilling effect as they decide whether to strike.

You know what the wooded hills of southern Columbiana County look like in November: gray skies, wet but colorful leaves carpeting the earth, curvy roads and weathered barns and houses.

No landmarks are visible that you would recognize. But the lonely woods make a perfect backdrop for the stoic folks who live there in this tale.

The pace is slow and deliberate but steadily builds suspense. The dialog, though sparse, is weighty.

The camera occasionally pauses to linger on a detail of nature: a romping dog or a spider on a wall.

The film itself is shot as if a fly on a wall inside the shabby homes and church of the snake-handling community.

Goggins plays the leader of the sect. He can fairly ooze menace, but here he comes across as a man of total faith, resolute in the face of danger.

The entire cast, plus writers-directors Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage, do wonders in creating an atmospheric but intense work of art on a very limited budget.


This is a great month for Youngstown movies for another reason.

“Finding Steve McQueen,” the film about the Valley’s safe-cracking Dinsio Gang’s greatest caper, was released on DVD Tuesday. That fun film, starring Forest Whitaker, Travis Fimmel, William Fichtner and Rachael Taylor, had a short theatrical run in March.

Guy D’Astolfo covers entertainment for The Vindicator. Follow him on Twitter at @VindyVibe.