As much as I may not heart the documentary genre as much as others, sometimes it’s when something hits close to home that it becomes more interesting. With the new doc Sons of Perdition, while maybe not in the literal sense of “close to home” as much as basically in my own backyard, it does. If people think there are ongoing issues regarding Utah, Arizona and its borders, there’s “immigration” problems of their own happening down in St. George, UT.
It’s in the small border towns of Hilldale, UT and Colorado City, AZ known as “The Crick” where there be polygamists afoot. A small group of teenage boys have finally had enough and decide they’re leaving their messed up world behind. What they don’t know is that without a permanent address or their social security cards they are unable to so much as attend high school, let alone seek out employment. Their families think it would have been better if they’d died than simply run away.
Sam is 17 with dyed blonde hair and a surfer attitude with a southern accent who describes his father’s showing of love to be choking him. Joe is also 17 who is so sheltered and suppressed he doesn’t even know what comic books are. Suzanne (Joes’s older sister) may be raising a baby of her own now but has no clue what the U.S. capital is. Bruce (Sam’s cousin) is the youngest at 15 and all of them wind up living together at one point or another as they either seek out individualism or adoption. Even the Army won’t take Sam or Joe. It’s only in the jobs corp that Sam can find a sense of belonging and worth.
Featuring the creepiest voiceover narrations ever from “The Prophet” Warren Jeffs to escape attempts by Joe’s mother and sisters, if you thought polygamy was freaky before (Big Love, Sister Wives), you ain’t seen nothing yet. Unfortunately, the film misses out on the opportunity to show the division of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints versus the rest of that organized religion. The sect is not a recognized sanction. With interviews ranging from a private investigator (Sam Brower) to author Jon Krakauer (Under the Banner of Heaven about fundamentalist Mormonism) it really raises the stakes in showing what a problem it’s truly becoming.
As if most men don’t already complain about having one wife, imagine having upwards of 80. If you’ve ever wondered why fundamentalism in the movies is always shown in the extreme featuring violence and supreme suppression, the stories told here shine a light as to why, it is truly frightening stuff. Just wait till you see Sam turn on a recording of Jeffs’ children singing a song and the creepiest smile ever spreads across his face as he begins to sing along don’t tell me there’s not something rotten in the state of Denmark.
The filmmakers of Sons of Perdition have also partnered with Holding Out Help, a Utah based non-profit organization to which one may make financial donations or offer goods and/or services.
And having already been acquired by the Oprah Winfrey Network after playing the Tribeca Film Festival, you can also catch a local screening if you live in those areas and the trailer is online as well.
Photos courtesy Left Turn Films