In Amy Berg’s riveting documentary “Prophet’s Prey,” she daringly navigates you through the FLDS, while providing detailed information about the infamous Warren Jeffs and Colorado City.
The documentary mainly follows Jon Krakauer, author of “Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith,” and private investigator Sam Brower, author of “Prophet’s Prey,” and whose book the documentary is based on.
Both Krakauer and Brower are experts on the topic, and have years of investigative work behind them that has taken them to the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas; the compound in Mancos, Colorado; and Colorado City, Arizona; or Hildale, Utah depending on where you stand.
Berg begins her documentary by explaining how the FLDS Church separated from the LDS Church in order to continue the practice of plural marriage, which was abandoned by the LDS Church in 1890. Berg then introduces Rulon Jeffs, Warren’s father, and explains the lineage of the family whose last name has become so famous over the last decade.
Perhaps the most compelling evidence throughout Berg’s documentary are the eyewitnesses who have agreed to walk the audience through a very detailed, and very horrifying past.
Janetta Jessop, the 63rd wife of Warren Jeffs; Wallace Jeffs, Warren Jeffs’ half brother; Brent Jeffs, Warren Jeffs’ nephew; and Ron Roebuck, Warren Jeffs’ personal security guard and former member of the FLDS Church, all appear. Others include former FLDS members, reporters, and law enforcement who worked the numerous cases in various jurisdictions.
Although the documentary is jammed packed with information that is fairly widespread, what is so disturbing is the knowledge shared that has not hit the mainstream media. It is suspected Warren Jeffs murdered his father, Rulon Jeffs, by purposely feeding his ailing father the wrong food. This being part of Jeffs’ plan to succeed his father, and become the prophet.
After being fed that shocking piece of information, Brower takes the cameras for a ride-along into Colorado City. As suspected, Brower and the cameras are anything but welcomed, and the church security tails Brower until they leave town. But that’s not before Brower takes you into the old school where Jeffs was principal, and sexually assaulted young girls and boys, including Jeffs’ nephew who appears in the film, and the daughter of his former security guard.
What perhaps is some of the most riveting pieces of information are the shady construction businesses Jeffs owns and uses to fuel money into the church, and how he made it onto the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list and managed to evade the law for so long.
But one thing Berg doesn’t tread lightly on is how sick Warren Jeffs really is, and she makes your stomach turn as the film walks you through the brainwashing methods Jeffs still uses to control a population devoted to following him to this day.
And part of this devotion included parents marrying their daughters, some as young as 12-years-old, off to the self-proclaimed prophet.
Ultimately, Jeffs sick obsession with underage girls was his demise, and he is currently serving a life sentence plus twenty years in a Texas prison.
Clips include Jeffs’ sentencing, and his constant usage of the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering any questions asked by lawyers during, and after his trail.
Overall, “Prophet’s Prey” is a fantastic documentary that takes you into a world you think you know, and completely turns it upside by throwing an abundance of information at you in just an hour and thirty minutes time. It is exactly what you would expect from the Oscar-nominated Berg, and reminds us of how documentaries should be made.