Well, this can probably be filed under “Potentially Fascinating Premise About Deeply Evil Shit That I Hope Never Happens To Me Or Anyone I Love.” Like Andrew Jarecki’s divisive miniseries “The Jinx,” Amy Berg’s new film “Prophet’s Prey” is preoccupied with a very specific kind of American monster. The creep focused on in Berg’s newest film is one Warren Jeffs, former president of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, the most prominent polygamous Mormon sect in North America, who was eventually convicted of two counts of sexual assault against a pair of underage girls and then subsequently sentenced to life in prison. The new trailer for “Prophet’s Prey,” which tells Jeffs’ story using interviews with family, former wives and church members, is almost unbelievably unnerving, practically from the first frame. And yet this brief glimpse also offers a look at the personal hellscape Jeffs forged for himself, and the suffering he wrought on the poor souls who wandered to his doorstep in search of answers.
In the footage we see, Jeffs comes across as a domineering but insidious figure. He appears to be twisting a widely revered religious scripture for his own ends, but his voice, which is guaranteed to make your skin crawl, sounds like a mild-mannered child. There are those among us who are, perhaps understandably, not eager to spend two hours ensconced in such sordid material. I would argue that “Prophet’s Prey” is worth our time when you consider Berg’s sterling pedigree, and on the basis of its first trailer, it looks to be pretty powerful. Whether the film actually reveals anything new in regards to this highly publicized case remains be seen. But early notices on the film are for the most part laudatory, with Kate Erbland writing in her review out of Sundance that the documentary is “a skin-crawling chronicle of one of America’s biggest criminals and the community that allowed him to flourish.”
Check out the trailer below. “Prophet’s Prey” opens in New York and L.A. in the fall and will also premiere on Showtime.