Blumhouse has brought documentaries to Netflix that highlight the horror in everyday life, particularly in spaces where you should feel safe. The latest is Our Father, a feature-length documentary that features acted dramatizations along with interviews, phone calls, and recordings from court proceedings with real victims. Another Blumhouse true crime film, Our Father, is directed by Lucie Jourdan and chronicles the disturbing discovery that a fertility doctor had his own interests at heart and not that of his patients.
The film begins with Jacoba Ballard, an only child conceived via donor sperm who always dreamed of having a brother or sister. When she takes an at-home DNA test, she realizes that she doesn’t just have one sibling but seven. As she digs, she realizes that these half-siblings are also, well, half-siblings to each other, each conceived via donor sperm. While discovering you have a family could be a great event, this number defied best practices in fertility medicine which limited the number of times donor sperm could be used in a city in order to ensure that people wouldn’t unknowingly start relationships with direct relatives.
Taking matters into their own hands, the group of siblings set out to learn more about their curious family tree only to discover the sickening truth: Their parents’ fertility doctor had been inseminating his patients with his sperm – without their knowledge or consent of the mothers. But this is just the tip of the sickening iceberg. Our Father chronicles the path that Ballard and her newfound siblings took to unravel and confront Dr. Donald Cline for his violating practice.
Our Father is a frustrating experience. Not because of the documentary itself, but rather the topic. While the documentary is straightforward, learning the details of the lies and violations Cline committed is a journey that showcases that women, no matter the healthcare, are treated as objects. The depth of his evil isn’t based on anything but narcism and religion, and the documentary doesn’t shy away from showcasing the way Cline used his interpretation of scripture as a justification for the violation of the women in his office.
Most startling in Our Father isn’t the double-digit children but the lengths that the victims had to go through to receive any justice. In fact, Our Father showcases how easy it was for Cline to get away with violating these women because there were no laws in place. Not only did the victims have to push for a rape charge to be pursued by the state, but they had to be let down when it was revealed that the only trial Cline would face was for technicalities and not the crime at hand.
While the documentary presents the story, how it builds the narrative using dramatizations feels like a miss. Often, these moments detract from the main purpose because of the thin acting. That said, the callouts at the end of the film highlight the reality that this could happen again. More specifically, the trust that a fertilization specialist doesn’t use their own sperm is essentially on an honor system, a best practice, and something someone could get away with again, thanks to the lack of legislation.
Overall, Our Father is unnerving, showcasing yet another erosion of bodily autonomy. Watching the film as a woman and under the current political climate which has eroded my right to an abortion, the fact that even women seeking to have children are treated like objects and no repercussions come from it is yet another sobering reminder of where we stand in the eyes of the law.
Our Father is available now, exclusively on Netflix.
Overall,Â Our FatherÂ is unnerving, showcasing yet another erosion of bodily autonomy. Watching the film as a woman and under the current political climate which has eroded my right to an abortion, the fact that even women seeking to have children are treated like objects and no repercussions come from it is yet another sobering reminder of where we stand in the eyes of the law.