What kind of person would tell you that your dad died over text? What if they lied about how or when he died? What would you do with yourself if the answers to those suffocating questions caused you to become fearful of someone you thought you knew?
“Sins of Our Mother”, a newly released Netflix limited docuseries, is about the rapid unraveling of a once-model family. A compilation of interviews, bodycam footage and text message evidence reveals the sneaking and scheming of the mother, Lori Vallow.
Lori’s history leading up to this story is rather messy. In the first marriage that the audience learns about between Lori and William Lagioia, there were various incidences of sexual abuse inflicted upon Lori and her first child, Colby. Upon hearing of these abuses made towards her child, Lori’s downward spiral began. Although distraught, Lori found Joseph Ryan, whom she had her daughter, Tylee, with. Finally, following Joseph’s death from a heart attack, Lori married Charles Vallow. It was in this marriage that the mystery of disappearance and religion fully developed.
Lori grew up very devoted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, so she introduced many of her religious practices to people who came later in her life. This eventually included Charles — but in an actually healthy manner — and the couple was able to rebuild their lives together. However, the Vallow family was only “picture-perfect” for a short amount of time.
By the day, Lori’s behavior quickly became more and more suspicious. Charles was the first and only one to notice this change, and he pleaded with other family members to help him because he felt as if Lori was slowly becoming unrecognizable. Everyone else believed him to be crazier than what he was making Lori out to be, until Colby finally became involved and began to share Charles’ suspicions.
Throughout the series, intensity grows as Lori’s interactions with the family become more vague. Questions arise when Lori takes her two children to “somewhere cold” and Tylee’s texts to her brother no longer sound like Tylee. Panic surfaces when a family member discovers an extensive list of names labeled as either “light souls” or “dark souls.” On top of it all, is Lori having an affair?
The complexity of ‘Sins of Our Mother’ pulls its audience into a thriller, detective and mystery trifecta. The Vallow family hears less and less from Lori by the day, to a point where they have no word from her whatsoever. This leads to a new question and concern every day. What does it mean to be a “dark” versus a “light” soul? Are the “dark souls” safe? When will Tylee finally call her brother back? What did Lori mean when she said the kids were safe and happy with no further explanation?
Within a short time span of three episodes — each less than an hour long — viewers learn about the rise and fall of the Vallow family, the cunning behavior of Lori Vallow and the extent to which religion can drive a person. Along with such astonishment, throughout the series viewers are constantly on the edge of their seats as they anxiously ask about the whereabouts of the two widely beloved children, the safety of those family members remaining on the “dark spirits” list and if Lori’s manipulations will ever be discovered.