By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
It’s hard to categorize the feeling of watching Pervert Park– humanist empathy, disgust, sadness, disgust at your sadness, and maybe even your empathy. It’s thorny, challenging, and far from the most fun you’ll have in the theater this year- and that’s precisely why you should give it a chance.
The subject, you see, is a Florida trailer park specifically inhabited by convicted sex offenders. These men and women have committed some of the most heinous crimes humans can, did their prison time, and returned to a world where a Florida trailer park is about the best you can hope for, provided you’re not a highly successful filmmaker, that is.
This is another American crime doc, as it appears on the surface, examining the incredibly harsh, life-destroying punishment levied for these crimes and the iffier practices of online chatroom entrapment. However, it’s not just some sort of innocence project like I suspected- most if not all of these people did the crimes, but doing their time is a neverending proposition.
Where this documentary becomes something more, something knotty and human and fascinating, is in the inhabitants’ heart-breaking, stomach-churning stories of abused turning abuser, delivered in the most matter-of-fact, soul-crushing manner. Pervert Park humanizes those many people consider in inhuman by letting them speak for themselves, and is thought-provoking in a direction many may not be comfortable pondering. Unsurprisingly, this is a Swedish production- I can’t imagine even someone like Errol Morris touching this one.
Europeans seem to be a bit more… laissez faire in this regard.
It’s the crime portion of this that falls short. 5% recidivism vs 77% or all other crimes does seem like an important statistic, but is it because of the Draconian treatment of these crimes, or in spite of it? What have other countries with more lenient punishment of these crimes see? The thesis isn’t followed through on very thoroughly, and doesn’t really coalesce into the cry for change that was perhaps intended.
Pervert Park is a complex, heart-wrenching examination of sex offenders- a subject so taboo, America would rather throw away the key than face it directly. We should face it directly.
Pervert Park (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for awful stories
Take a Drink: for discussions of rehabilitation
Take a Drink: for tears- theirs or your own
Do a Shot: for statistics