‘Polygamy Gone Wrong’ (2020) | Indie Review | Patrick Beatty Reviews

Polygamy Gone Wrong is a short, visceral arthouse horror film, which centers around a group of polygamist wives who have to endure horrific abuse from their husband until they finally decide to take matters into their own hands.

The film is shot in black and white and offers us a gritty slow-burn experience. There’s plenty of obscure aerial shots that give us a sense of isolation when the film first starts, with a haunting score to go alongside it, which seems to echo into the distance of each opening shot. It’s a unique parallel that only draws you into the story like a trance. Thankfully the abuse is never seen on-screen, but what is often left unseen allows for our brains to make it that more damaging. 

The third act is what stood out to me the most in this 20-minute short film. It feels like that’s where the filmmakers have a lot of fun experimenting with visceral imagery, the score, and overall the subject matter as we get to witness this polygamy marriage that has gone wrong in the darkest of ways. What I appreciate the most about this film is how the filmmakers were able to pull off this slow-burn tension in such a short amount of time. It pays off to have it shot as such, and in the end, it makes for an interesting, and almost surreal-like, piece of art just as the first piece of music hits. 

The only drawback for me is I ultimately wanted more imagery woven in throughout the piece, and for the tension to go on even longer. I wanted that slow-burn vibe to last, and because of that, I felt that the stakes could have been even higher if they crossed the boundaries more and left some of the imagery ambiguous for us to decipher and ponder. That’s not to say what happens isn’t pretty damning, because it is, but a part of me questions what could have been if a few extra steps were taken to get to that extra mile. 

Needless to say, this is a fun short film. Polygamy is the last subject matter I would have thought of when it comes to merging horror with slow-burn, yet Director Alicia Farmer, alongside co-director John Farmer, went there and made the experience not only jarring, but even shocking at some parts. For being only 20-minutes, I am impressed. The score is still echoing in my mind as I type this out.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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