Netflix's new documentary Our Father is a properly nausea-inducing nightmare
A true-life horror story that turned hundreds of lives completely upside down.
There is a problem with Netflix's new documentary feature Our Father, and it feels like it can be traced back to executive producer Jason Blum. While he has been behind some incredible documentaries over the years (including literally one of the best ever, The Jinx), he is also the man who runs Blumhouse, one of the cornerstones of modern horror.
We're not saying that Blum held any sway over the stylistic direction of this new project, but it certainly feels as if director Lucie Jourdan has decided to bring in some horror-esque influences to this story. The movie literally begins with an elderly man ejaculating into a specimen cup, with some unnerving music playing over the whole thing, almost as if to immediately warn you that this is not going to be an entertaining watch. You will be upset and you will be disgusted.
Later in the story, a scene seems to be borrowing the entire idea of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, before then switching that out for a psychological thriller where nobody feels safe.
The thing is, Our Father didn't need all of these creepy bells and whistles, because the basic story at its core is horrific enough. Over a number of decades, renowned fertility doctor Donald Cline had been swapping out donated sperm for his own without the mother's knowledge, resulting in creating dozens and dozens of his own children.
Jourdan doesn't really focus too much on Cline's perspective, instead detailing the story from point of view of the now-grown children, with the sheer scale of his impact becoming more and more apparent with the recent uptick in family-tree DNA test sites like 23 & Me.
His children are discovering more and more half-siblings on a shockingly regular basis, most of them living within the short distance of each other, leading to the constantly prevailing fear that one pair may have coupled up at some point over the years. The documentary also hears from distraught fathers - some of whom find out decades later that they aren't actually the biological parent to their child - and violated mothers, who are having a hard time with the US judicial system to find an actual law that Cline had broken.
As the story expands to fold in an appearance on Dr. Phil, a massive lawsuit, a Fox news reporter butting heads with the Attorney General, and a very odd religious angle, there is more than enough here to grab your attention by the throat and not let go. Some documentary topics need a little visual assistance to win us over, but this is definitely not one of those times. Our Father has more than enough substance, but sometimes its own style gets in the way.
Our Father will be available to watch on Netflix from Wednesday, 11 May.
Clip via Netflix