REVIEW: Prophet’s Prey

2 12 2015

Prophet's Prey2015 has been a banner year for films taking on the corruption within institutional religion, both as narratives (“Spotlight“) and documentaries (“Going Clear“). Having caught up with Amy Berg’s “Prophet’s Prey,” a non-fiction account of Warren Jeffs’ perversion of the Mormon faith into the abusive FLDS, the film just does not quite measure up to the two aforementioned towering works.

The film does a thorough job tracing the history of the group, starting with Joseph Smith receiving the Golden Plates and leading his followers westwards to Utah. Eventually, the FLDS breaks off from the mainline Mormon church that forms in protest of their rejection of polygamy. Their “purer” practice of religion, of course, only leads to crazy people like Warren Jeffs exploiting the innocence and faithfulness of the followers so he can indulge his abusive fantasies.

Berg recounts the unraveling of the group after Jeffs gets caught after years on the FBI’s most wanted list with a matter-of-fact precision. In fact, it’s almost so dog-on-bone with the journalistic approach that it barely leaves room for a release of anger or disgust. Both “Spotlight” and “Going Clear” proved that providing information and provoking outrage are not mutually exclusive attributes, while “Prophet’s Prey” seems to regard them as such. Still, anyone fascinated by how these groups function by discipline and punish will find plenty to keep them engaged. B2halfstars