For some time - ever since I heard of this film and found it was highly recommended - I've been wanting to see it. As it came to an end, I found myself wondering what it was trying to achieve. Basically, we get to watch a recording of parts of a "Holiness" service in West Virginia. If you've ever been to a charismatic worship service most of this will be pretty familiar. Testimonies, speaking in tongues, dancing in the aisles, people asking for healing, people being "slain in the Spirit" and lots and lots of singing. Head to your local Pentecostal Church for an evening service. You'll see most of that. What you won't see at your typical charismatic church, of course, is snake handling. That's the hook here, but there's no snake handling until the last 15 minutes or so. The person leading the service gets bitten, but seems OK, and there's no follow-up to see if he stayed OK. Aside from being able to see the snake handling, actually attending a charismatic service is far more interesting than watching one.
Basically, I found myself with a question when this was over: what was the purpose of the film? It's described as a documentary, but it offered very little information. The opening of the film mentions that the movement bases itself on the signs recorded in Mark 16:9-20, but doesn't mention that Mark 16:9-20 is considered by most to be a later add-on to Mark's Gospel, but not part of the original text. Issues around "proof-texting" could have been mentioned here, but weren't. There's no real discussion of the "holiness" movement, no background, no critical evaluation. It's just a recording of a service. The snake handling gives it an edge, but frankly the edge is rather dull. 4/10
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