A Mother Knows
Religious killings linked to the church are certainly nothing new in the true-crime field. Even this year alone we’ve had several Netflix documentaries tackling this, including Murder Among the Mormons and Keep Sweet. The attention here though turns much more sour, as the spotlight shines on Lori Vallow and her descent from loving mother to twisted, damaged woman.
There’s an intricate and detailed family history for Lori Vallow, including five marriages, a whole bunch of siblings, friends and children. But the focus here is not on the wider family tree but rather one single branch. That branch holds the names of Lori’s two children, Tylee and JJ.
Despite presenting herself as a doting mum, including appearing on pageants and the Wheel of Fortune, Lori’s demeanour and attitude changes to something far more alarming, embracing her faith to the degree of becoming a believer in extreme apocalyptic ideology – with devastating consequences.
The episodes themselves are essentially split into different parts of the case, with the first 50 minutes working to flesh out Lori’s history, her troubled marriages and setting the foundations for what happens next. As Lori’s behaviour deteriorates, the second episode shifts the focus across to Lori’s beliefs and behaviour, as she starts to slip into an unstable frame of mind.
Lori’s beliefs really take on an extra edge of wickedness when she marries Chad Daylow. Soon after comes the disappearance of both Tylee and JJ. What happened to them? Where are they? Who took them? I won’t reveal that here, especially for those unfamiliar with the case, but the show does a pretty good job stringing this mystery along before revealing the truth late on.
The documentary uses a combination of archival footage and present day interviews, led by Colby, Lori’s other son. He helps to flesh out more of the family’s past, Lori’s troubling descent And key parts of this case that make this a much more intricate watch than it otherwise would be.
The pacing is actually pretty good across the board, although the first episode does bombard you with a whole stack of family trees. I’m not sure whether the accompanying visuals actually help that much, but toward the end of episode 1 onwards, the pace does pick up.
Some of this can be attributed to the length of each episode. With the first 2 running for 50 minutes (48 if you exclude the credits!) and 35 minutes for episode 3, this is a very easy show to slip into, and a tough one to put down once you start.
Sins of Our Mother is a gripping and unnerving true crime documentary on Netflix. With good pacing and a wealth of detail, not to mention archival footage, timelines and eye-opening interviews, this one’s well worth a watch.