Deep religious beliefs permeate an extremely small and isolated Appalachian community. Pastor’s daughter Mara is trapped between her feelings and the expectations put upon her by her father and his followers. She is secretly pregnant. She is rightfully petrified to be found out. Blind faith and reality might just split her in two.
Olivia Colman is completely unexpected as a matron in this community. Her American accent is frighteningly good. She is nothing like you expect her character to be. She ever so slightly and quietly teeters on the brink of questioning what’s right. Jim Gaffigan plays her husband Zeke. You almost wouldn’t know he was there. He is vastly underutilized. What he does get to emote is strong. Walton Goggins as Pastor Lemuel makes your skin crawl with his piercing stare. Alice Englert as Mara is vulnerable and raw. She owns each scene she’s in and goes toe to toe with the presence of Colman and Goggins.
The film has such an ominous sense that it keeps you engrossed and totally uncomfortable as you watch.The film is shot in darkness, whether at night or overcast skies, costumes and sets are all in winter and fall browns and jewel tones. This is a story of not only religious zealots it is also quietly about the sexual awakening of a repressed young woman. Misogyny and passion clash and a sheer impending terror has a palpable effect on the audience. Something wicked this way comes.