Chattanooga Film Festival: True Believer (2022)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph Perry writes for the film websites Gruesome Magazine, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel and Diabolique Magazine; for the film magazines Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope and Drive-In Asylum; and for the pop culture websites When It Was Cool and Uphill Both Ways. He is also one of the hosts of When It Was Cool’s exclusive Uphill Both Ways podcast and can occasionally be heard as a cohost on Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast.

Writer/director Alana Purcell’s debut feature True Believer brings the term “quirky indie comedy” to another level, in a decidedly good way. This tale of a fractured family and the supposedly supernatural property that two of them inherit is charming and, ultimately, brimming with positivity.

Rainbow (Ferelith Young) is her younger brother Paul’s (Vincent Jefferds) keeper. The two of them were in a car crash when they were kids. Rainbow suffered a major arm injury while Paul was in a coma for quite a while. Estranged from their mother, who caused the accidents, the now-adult siblings are simply trying to keep their heads above water when they find out that they have inherited their father’s rural property, said to have certain mystical qualities that draw some people to it for its alleged powers and others for its possible profit. Robyn (Adrienne Duncan) lived on the property and knew their father well, as she was one of his followers. Yes, Rainbow and Paul have much to learn about their dad and his land.

Young is terrific in her starring role, investing her character with a magnetic blend of pessimism and survival-mode verve. Jefferds nails his role as well; he plays the imaginative brother impressively in a role that could easily fall into schmaltz or corniness if overdone. Duncan leads a fun, rather sizable supporting cast.

Rather than sending up New Age beliefs or wringing family drama tropes for all that they are worth, Purcell avoids such low-hanging fruit and instead embraces alternative beliefs, emotional familial scars, and taking chances on new leases in life in a breezy, humorous manner. The result is a fun film that should leave viewers smiling. 

True Believer screens as part of Chattanooga Film Festival, which takes place online June 23–28, 2022. For more information, visit https://www.chattfilmfest.org/.

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