News viewers who tuned in to any of the dozens of programs clamoring for their consumption early last week might have glimpsed a peculiar sight. In the midst of the coverage of floods that killed at least 20 people on the Utah-Arizona border, TV reports about a dozen of those lost in the deluge showed women in pioneer dresses wading toward safety. Their attire was monochromatic, anachronistic and suitable for neither hot weather nor high water, their hair swept up into distinctive braid-bouffant sculptures.
That televised drama was not about some old-timey Wild West theme park getting hit by nature’s wrath. As is also the case in Amy Berg‘s subtly disturbing new documentary “Prophet’s Prey,” which focuses on the secluded religious sect to which the women belong, the imperiled female figures on screen in the flood reports are mute, vulnerable and on display. They huddle and struggle together without openly acknowledging the cameras or people around them, a tender herd of wildlife curiosities captured in a rare moment of forced contact with civilization.