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‘Our Father’ review: Horrifying & topical documentary

Disgusting on many levels.

Our Father is a horrifying true crime documentary premiering on Netflix. The film is about former fertility doctor Donald Cline. During the 1980s, Cline used his own semen to impregnate his patients. It is also a look at how the legal system did little to help. 

Produced by Blumhouse, the film has a horror movie feel to it. Our Father uses an ominous score and set pieces to heighten the emotion. At times, this can take away from how terrifying the story truly is. It attempts to generate artificial scares when none are needed. 

Instead of focusing on what Cline accomplished (there are many who speak highly of him), Our Father is about the siblings, mainly Jacoba Ballard. Her story is an interesting one as the filmmakers do an excellent job of exploring her character. She brings added emotion to the already powerful story. 

There are lots of twists and turns in Our Father. Some seem to be added for their outrageous quality, and the film is at its best when it focuses on the victims. In an age when women’s reproductive rights are already being threatened, the documentary hits particularly hard. The moments regarding the legal aspect are particularly frustrating.

The mix of talking head interviews, audio recordings, and dramatic recreations are a mixed bag. Some of the recreations are overly dramatic, while the actual statements from those involved are moving. The interviews are striking (the resemblance between the siblings is terrifying) while audio recordings from Cline may be the scariest part of Our Father.

While there are some missteps, the true crime documentary is one of the most compelling Netflix has to offer. On its own, what Cline did was horrible, but Our Father expands its scope by focusing more on the lives of his offspring. When he deals with the court proceedings, the film takes it to a whole new level of disgust and terror.

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