On the sixteenth day of Halloween: SAVIOR COMPLEX (2023)
Mike Flanagan’s extraordinary The Fall of the House of Usher got me stewing over the real-life examples of that fictional family. But not just the 1%. It also got me considering examples of real-life horror evident in incidents of white privilege, entitlement, and impunity when it comes to documented crimes of regular folks. Which leads me to HBO’s recent 3-part documentary Savior Complex (2023), about a white missionary named Renee Bach in Uganda who was allegedly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Ugandan children.
How could this potential serial killer be free and clear of legal consequences from these beyond horrifying actions, living her life in Virginia as I write this? White privilege, plain and simple.
Bach begins this terrible story with an account of receiving messages from God telling her to go to Uganda. Instead of getting medical help herself for the voices in her head telling her to do inappropriate things, she packs up and joins her church’s mission to the country.
Once she got there and she started understanding the kind of unfettered power she could enjoy that wouldn’t be available to her in her evangelical community in the USA, she escalates her “mission from God” and begins doing medical procedures that she wasn’t qualified to do, ignoring medical advice. And all around her young children begin dying. In her prime caucasity, she was even blogging about all of this. Telling her thousands and thousands of followers about her daily life and the ways God was directing her hands at her clinic. God was so chatty with her, the entity was even telling her to ignore the experience and diagnoses of actual medical professionals as she and she alone decided how the children in her clinic were treated.
What’s even more horrifying is that in the many years she was “working” in Uganda, her facility was only licensed for medical purposes for one year. As the documentary reveals, the Ugandan government doesn’t even allow these kinds of clinics in the country, and they especially don’t permit them without trained medical professionals! So Bach gets a new call from “God” to partner with the Ugandan government in expanding her work. During none of this time did Bach ever actually get any medical training. She and her family watched the money roll in.
This is called real-life white devilry.
Founder of the NGO No White Saviours Olivia Alaso says about Bach, “Angels like Renee bring death to the continent.” And Alaso’s campaign to hold Bach accountable for her crimes continues, as Bach hides behind evangelical money and her whiteness on a lush estate in Virginia.
One important aspect of Savior Complex is its discussion about how white women take on these kids of roles of power in Africa and Asia because, in the evangelical communities, they can’t have that level of power or control in the USA. Not in their marriage, certainly not in their church, and many aren’t allowed to work. So under the guise of a divine calling, they go to places where they can literally get away with murder. And they excuse the murders because God “chose” to call those babies home with her “help.”
I watched much of this documentary peeking around the corner from the kitchen. It’s worse than any horror movie on my Halloweenathon list. Even The Neon Demon.
✨Rage/5 stars. Highly recommend missionaries stop. JUST STOP.✨