(Q&A with the filmmakers after the screening)
The stakes of angering God could be fatal for some religious devotees. Deep in the rugged wilderness of Appalachia, the members of an isolated community of Pentecostal snake handlers led by Pastor Lemuel (Walton Goggins) risk their lives to attest themselves before God. They believe in a literal reading of Mark 16:18: “They shall take up serpents…They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” Lemuel’s daughter Mara (Alice Englert) prepares for her upcoming wedding to the young believer her father has singled out for her under the watchful eye of fellow religious adherents like Hope (Olivia Colman) and Zeke (Jim Gaffigan). While outwardly dutiful, Mara is scrambling to hide a forbidden relationship that has the potential to drive her father’s church to ruin. Co-stars Thomas Mann as the community’s lone doubting Thomas.