HBO’s “True Detective” —arguably 2014’s most engrossing and talked-about show— has, since airing its debut season, been the subject of an almost alarming amount of think pieces, critical essays and general scrutiny. The show, which began as a grim, somewhat familiar police procedural/murder mystery and quickly evolved into a searing look at the ravaged psyches of two very different men, has also been something of a lightning rod for controversy. There were the accusations of plagiarism against series creator Nic Pizzolatto, and some criticism over the show’s depiction of women. There were also those who claimed that the show exploited “sensitive” material in the name of sensationalism, and that later plot developments bordered on ludicrous. However, the emergence of this new documentary from Vice Magazine titled “The Real ‘True Detective’?” suggests that Pizzalatto and series director Cary Joji Fukunaga exaggerating only slightly when creating their dead from the inside out Southern Gothic milieu.
The twenty-minute doc sheds light on a bizarre and troubling series of sex crimes that took place in the god-fearing, bible-belt town of Pontchatoula, Louisiana. A decade ago, two alleged men of God —a would be Pastor Louis Lamonica and his youth pastor Trey Bernard— conducted an unholy bacchanal of Satanic worship, animal sacrifice and, perhaps most distressingly, child molestation that rocked the core of this small, otherwise normal town. Vice interviews citizens of the town —all of whom seem genuinely shocked that something so awful could happen in their close-knit community— as well as the detectives and FBI Agents who worked on the case for years. The details that emerge from the detective’s work are the stuff of nightmares: I won’t spoil it for you, but you may not want to know went on inside the Hosanna’s Church’s designated “youth room.” What’s perhaps the single most disturbing thing about this doc is how such unspeakable acts went unnoticed simply because they were taking place behind the doors of a church. Towards the end of the video, Detective Stuart Murphy regrets not having dug deeper into the case, and laments that other children may not have had their traumas documented. It was, in fact, Lamonica and Bernard’s voluntary confession to the authorities that sealed their fate: another confounding fact in an already confounding case.
These events are more upsetting than anything on “True Detective”, because they happened. It’s fascinating to see which elements of this sordid affair Pizzolatto chose to draw from in the creation of his sick, singular world. “True Detective” is currently available on DVD, BluRay and HBOgo.