The New Yorker
December 2, 2017

What to Stream This Weekend: Good Bad Movies

Five films that are irrepressibly delightful and absurdly flawed.

by Richard Brody

"Trapped by the Mormons"

A macabre cult, a ritual murder, a purification in metaphysical light, a swarm of possessed Bacchae--O.K., it's a mockumentary, and an imperfect one, but at its best, "Trapped by the Mormons," the director Ian Allen's 2005 remake of a 1922 cautionary religious drama of the same title, is a hectic wonder. This remake, like the original, is also a silent film, in black-and-white; it's the simple story of a young Englishwoman who abandons her fiancé, an upright military officer, for a Mormon proselytizer who's also, by the way, a vampire. It's also a work of such frenetic exaggeration that no connection to real-life Mormons--or, for that matter, real-life people--can at all be inferred. On the other hand, Allen takes an obvious pleasure in attempting to reproduce the dance-like gesticulations and mask-like grimaces of silent actors whose performances are rendered all the more artificial by the ludicrous attitudinizing that the story dictates. His sense of silent-film style--and of its uncanny power--overcomes the limits of his source material and his threadbare production.

Stream "Trapped by the Mormons" on Vimeo.