Latest Review for “Follow the Prophet” on the Ft. Bend Star, Houston
By Nick Nicholson*
Everything is bigger in Texas, right? More people, more space, more news – even bad news. It’s a law of averages, really. Every state produces it’s fair share of nut jobs, however our state of Texas, because of its size, seems to produce more than most. You may recall back in April of2008, a raid took place on the polygamist community at Yearning for Zion Ranch, Texas. Seems there were a number of unethical things taking place (big surprise) and many of them had to do with the mistreatment of children (even bigger surprise). Hopefully you see the sarcasm here.
Numerous films have been made about the polygamist society and the things that often happen behind closed doors. I have never been a proponent of having multiple wives simply because it took me so damn long to find the one wife I have right now. That being said, we all have a responsibility to keep our minds open to what happens in our communities and our state so that we can correct the wrongs and bolster the rights. What we have here is new movie titled Follow the Prophet that is hitting theaters this week in Houston. In light of what hit the news back in 2008, this film couldn’t come at a more sensitive time for both Texans and the folks all across the country.
Follow the Prophet gives us a look into the lives of young females that are forced into arranged marriages with the leaders of the cult. These kids suffer emotional damage due to the sexual molestation they experience – some even from their own fathers. This film introduces us to Avery, a young 15 year old girl who musters the courage to flee the cult in an effort to obtain her freedom. She meets Colonel Jude Marks, a military man who lost his own daughter recently. He is very sympathetic to Avery’s situation and can’t help but see his own late daughter in the young woman he is now assisting. They work together in an effort to expose the truth about what is happening in the commune and to save the lives, futures and freedoms of the other kids.
There are numerous aspects of this picture that I like. The selection of Robert Chimento as Colonel Marks and Diane Venora as the sheriff were commendable. Their chemistry is obvious and there timing is well done. However, the choice of Annie Burgstede as Avery is the glue that holds the picture together. She was outstandingly believable, particularly in the more uncomfortable aspects of the film. Director Drew Ann Rosenberg is to be congratulated keeping
the pacing of the film moving forward consistently. When films like this tend to drag, they develop an uncomfortable ‘Lifetime Movie’ type of feel. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen here. The climax of the film with the Prophet (Tom Noonan) makes you want to jump up and scream for joy.
Follow the Prophet isn’t going to be for everyone. Some folks prefer to go through life with a blindfold on. You know, the proverbial “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” Sorry, but the out of sight out of mind excuse isn’t going to cut it. Should you choose to watch the film, before dismissing the film as cliche, I encourage you to think of the hundreds of thousands of under age kids living in environments such as this. Once you make that comparison, I dare you to even suggest it isn’t a big deal.
*Nick Nicholson is the Film and Entertainment Critic for the Fort Bend Star. In addition, his reviews can be seen and heard in numerous other print/media outlets in Texas and Oklahoma as well as on the radio and television here in Houston. Mr. Nicholson is in great demand as a speaker to both public and civic organizations on the subject of film and the entertainment industry. He is the co-founder of the Houston Film Critics Society and is currently the President of the organization.