#Documentary Catching up With: Sons of Perdition

Now streaming, Sons of Perdition is a harrowing 2010 documentary about young religious exiles from an extreme brand of Mormonism, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where your sister could soon turn into your mother-in-law. The cult apparently exists to this day with thousands of members in the bordering sister cities of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona, a region known as the Crick. The cult, notorious for practicing placement marriage and polygamy, has several other hotbed areas, from Texas to South Dakota. This is a film about young people who try to get away, and it delves deeply, yet with subtle strokes, into the post-traumatic.

The documentary itself is a very sad and thought-provoking tale of youth torn between newfound freedom and past oppression. They miss their families, however sordid and confusing they may be, and try to find their way within a loose brotherhood of exiled FLDS and Mormons who seem to want to help. Billed as a case study of post-polygamy life, the film serves a much broader purpose of looking into what it's like to live in such a removed world from conventional ones and then trying to escape.

The film has many fade to blacks and hard to read fonts, but these give the documentary, along with the back and forth attempted freedom escapes, and sometimes confusing, hurried timeline, an edge, and heightened sense of reality. Overall, it focusses mostly on young exiled men now living in Saint George, Utah, but also gives a hint at what seems to be the much worse fate of the young women who also escaped or were forced out.

Directors Jennilyn Merten, an American studies scholar, and Tyler Measom are lapsed Mormons themselves and they weave very effectively between raw footage of rescue attempts, beautiful, eerie shots of the cult areas, and intimate, sometimes scary behavior of those who escaped.

The actions of the cult leader, Warrens Jeff (above), finally caught up to him and he is now in prison for a life sentence near Palestine, Texas for sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault of children. He will be eligible for parole consideration in 2038. Last year, Jeffs claimed that the world would end.

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