CINEMA

UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN (2022)

Series Review

Limited Series (Episodes 1 + 2)

Aired On: Hulu
Release Date: 04/28/22
Crime/Drama/Mystery

THE "IMDB" PREMISE:

"A devout detective's faith is tested as he investigates a brutal murder seemingly connected to an esteemed Utah family's spiral into LDS fundamentalism and their distrust in the government."

OUR REVIEW:

Have you ever watched something so boring that your eyes felt like they were sunken to the back of your head? By the second episode of Under The Banner of Heaven, I found myself waking up from a midday nap hours later.

 

Andrew Garfield plays a detective investigating the death of a local woman Brenda and her baby Erica (which is based on the non-fiction book Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by author Jon Krakauer). When the cops see her husband Allen Lafferty running back to the house covered in blood they take him in on the assumption he committed the heinous crime. Upon his questioning we lose a chunk of the first episode to flashbacks of the deceased's past life in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These flashbacks are told by Allen on Brenda's behalf, which is just an unreliable source to begin with. The flashbacks are super long and took me out of the story. I got to the next episode, and it's pretty much a lot of the same back and forth story telling.

 

The story of the victims in the show is inspired by a real mother, Brenda Lafferty and her baby who were killed in 1984 Utah. I won’t reveal too much more about the real case, as it’s all on Wikipedia. However, the show focuses on telling the story through the flashbacks and the ideologies of the church from the minds of the suspects. At least that's what I took away from it. Honestly, much of it was super confusing.

 

It seems this show was made with the LDS Mormon community in mind, and whoever else was around in 1984 Utah to hear about the tragedy, through the language and references to the religion. I'm sure there are a boat load of people who are watching this and know exactly what it's all saying and I do recognize what the show might mean for those folks.

 

I was so excited for this show but this two episode premiere was just not enough to hold my attention. I'm not too sure if I would recommend it to someone who is really into crime shows, since the timeline of events is easier to understand by googling. However, if you're into more abstract, non-linear storytelling in an episodic format, you can watch the first half of the season now on Hulu.

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OUR VERDICT: