Prophet's Prey (2015) Poster

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9/10
Dark and disturbing story about systematic abuse
Red-Barracuda22 June 2015
This very disturbing documentary looks at Warren Jeffs the former president of the Fundamentalists of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). This organisation is one of the largest Mormon churches in America. It is most well-known for continuing the practice of polygamy. Jeffs himself had approximately seventy wives. Under his leadership there was a marked increased oppression of the FLDS followers. He implemented many restrictions on their lives and at his whim was at liberty to take away a members family, their home and all their money. The membership of the FLDS were to a large extent systematically brainwashed from birth to give maximum unquestioning obedience to their leaders in the priesthood and were banned from any contact with the outside world whatsoever. Warren Jeffs in particular used the guise of religion to carry out a number of extremely evil acts; most damningly he sexually abused and raped many children under his wing.

Two men, private investigator Sam Brower and novelist Jon Krakauer, have dedicated considerable time in bringing Jeffs down, while film-maker Amy Berg has brought this story to the screen here with Prophet's Prey. Scored with a very fitting downbeat minimalist music by Nick Cave, this is a well-made film which makes its point very clearly. The story is deeply unsettling and strange and shows that there is a form of extremely unpleasant religious fundamentalism of a Christian variety that is established within the United States itself. Jeffs consistently comes across as a deeply creepy man, with his very sinister monotone voice anything but reassuring. The liberties he continued to take and the way in which he is still considered a martyr to many in the FLDS is an indication of the way a group of people can be programmed to believe almost anything if it is presented in the right way to them. Jeffs paints himself as a prophet of God and was free to do as he pleased. The horrible extent of this is revealed in a small segment of a clip of a recording of him raping one of his twelve year old wives. It has been included here to show us a deeply unpleasant truth and is not exploitative; the full clip itself is seemingly harrowing. Despite his claims to the opposite, Jeffs is a man with no morals at all and simply abused his power at every given opportunity. He is a hypocrite who indulged in many things he forbade his followers to do. Latterly, from his cell he is questioned by Berg on his actions. His response is to repeat the words 'the Fifth Amendment' ad nauseam; it seems that when it suits him he is happy to hide behind the technicalities of the laws of the United States, a country he was hitherto at pains to disassociate himself from before. The truth of course is that he sexually abused many children, often of alarmingly young ages and he simply has no answer to these accusations.

Amy Berg has put together a very powerful documentary about a subject many of us had not hitherto known about. It is disturbing and enlightening. It is perhaps especially pertinent for us here in the UK who are still living in the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile scandal where a children's television entertainer who was regarded by some as a national treasure, got away with years of paedophile abuse of kids of all ages. He got away with it because he manipulated his position and did good deeds in order to give him cover to do bad. Warren Jeffs is a man from the same ilk and the more predators like him are exposed from the low-lives they are, the better society will be.
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7/10
Creepy
billcr1228 December 2016
If you come to this film with a negative view of religion, Prophet's Prey will only reinforce those feelings. Personally, as a retired Catholic, I am mystified by theologies of every kind. Here we begin with a brief history of the mainstream Mormon church, as Joseph Smith discovers golden plates in upstate New York; close to my home turf, by the way, and Joey, with the help of a magical peep stone, translates an unknown ancient language into modern English. This work eventually becomes famous as the book of Mormon. Within a short time, one of Smith's visions has the lord requiring polygamy, specifically at least three wives to enter the celestial kingdom, or highest level of heaven. After Joseph's death, the church is taken over by Brigham Young who also has many wives(30 to 40). The U.S. government forces the church to renounce polygamy and this leads to a schism with the(FLDS) reformed church of latter day saints splitting from the LDS. And now to the present day and subject of the movie, Warren Jeffs. He is the son of Rulon Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS. Father and son both have many wives and children, including teenage girls. They dress in pioneer dresses and are sort of Amish looking. The men turn over most of their money to the church and the women are basically baby factories. Warren Jeffs finally is arrested and convicted of performing weddings of underage girls in Utah. After some legal wrangling, the state of Texas gets a hold of his sorry ass and convicts him of marrying a twelve year-old girl. The interviews are good and the shots of Jeffs in prison refusing to answer questions, are downright creepy. Tapes of his lectures to the flock are played throughout and he has the charisma of a tiny insect. Jon Krakauer is a co-writer and appears on camera trying to explain Jeff's power over so many people. He can't figure it out and neither can I. Prophet's Prey is worth your while.
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8/10
Great Doc About One Evil Bast**d!
MovieHoliks12 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I just saw this excellent new documentary from Showtime Documentary Films. The film examines Warren Jeffs' life and shows how he became a worshipped and adored Prophet. Warren has a devout following numbering in the tens of thousands - many of whom would give their life at any moment with just one word from the Prophet. Despite a trail of abuse and ruined lives, he has maintained his grip on power. Wow!

As disturbing as this film shows organized religion can get, I couldn't help but think to myself as I was watching this - that this really isn't all that different from most organized religions. No, of course, not all take things to this extreme and abuse; but just the insanity of where it takes your thinking, your mind set; how you view your place in the world, as well as your children's in relation to yourself.

This is one of the best docs I've seen all year. I would encourage all to check out this movie, and be warned, no cross section of Catholic priests has anything on Mr. Jeffs...
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9/10
Highly recommended
jadavix30 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Prophet's Prey" is a riveting, disturbing documentary about systemic abuse in an FLDS - Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints - organization.

Using interviews with people involved in the church and those who saw it from the outside, the documentary makes a case against Warren Jeffs, the "prophet" who headed his church in a compound away from the world's eyes - a distance that allowed him to take many young girls as wives.

We hear from victims both male and female, and the private detective who became obsessed with seeing Jeffs behind bars. There is a particularly disturbing recording of Jeffs' voice as he speaks to a young girl, presumably during or after a rape. Jeffs is heard intoning Bible verse with his alien, emotionless voice, that becomes all too familiar by the movie's end: this voice, and his adeptness with scripture, are the two weapons he uses in keeping people at bay so that he can carry out his molestation. The voice must sound to the flock like the voice of God when it comes over a loudspeaker; to us it is the voice of a psychopath.

Jeffs was jailed for life, but he is still leading the church from his cell, and the movie's ending makes you wonder how many more like him there are out there. While it is immensely vindicating to see the man locked up, the movie paints the picture of a much larger problem.

It's disturbing viewing, but compulsively watchable, and highly recommended.
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