PROPHET’S PREY

— by Jeff Schultz
I saw this documentary at the Tromsø festival the same day as SPOTLIGHT (see below). A more fitting double bill cannot be imagined. The doc is based on a book by the private investigator Sam Brower, who helped put power-mad, child abusing Mormon sect leader Warren Jeffs away for life (plus 20 years). Brower and author Jon Krakauer — who wrote a separate book about a different group of Mormon fundamentalists — are the most prominent outsiders in a film whose most powerful witnesses are the victims and immediate relatives of Jeffs, including his brother, his sister, his nephew — and wife #63, who got out but like the handful of other “apostates” will always bear the scars. But whereas SPOTLIGHT is a dramatic masterpiece with a beginning, a middle and an end that brings closure, the documentary shows us that in real life, resolution isn’t as easily attainable. Because once Jeffs is arrested, tried and sentenced, the film still has another third to go — and that final segment is just as devastating, because the evil has not only not been vanquished, it appears to be as deeply embedded as ever. (Jeffs apparently still runs the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints from prison while one of his other brothers presides over (i.e. dictates to and controls) the flock on the ground. Listening to stories of these pathetic, deluded, hopeless, depressed, lost souls I felt anger at their stupidity — until a clarifying explanation is offered: these completely isolated sect members have not known anything different from birth for generations; they’re our North Koreans. A savage reminder that faith-based terrorism doesn’t only destroy with bombs and beheadings.

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