The title of Spencer McCall’s new documentary may catch the eyes of some potential viewers curious to learn what it means. It might also drive away those who need a more direct hook when scanning a list of movies to stream. As such it bespeaks a hesitance to give away the full contours of McCall’s story that makes viewing the film an often frustrating experience.
Be forewarned that it just not possible to talk about the movie without giving away things that the film keeps hidden for half of its running time. On the other hand, knowing what’s going on makes the film a lot easier to watch, so I’m going to spoil away.
The Latitude Society was a pseudo-mythic organization concocted a few years back by a group of San Franciscans, one of them with enough money to put their elaborate plan to work. Styled as a secret society with ancient roots, it attempted to create an immersive fantasy though which those who joined could alter their perception of reality. Invitees were given instructions to report to remote location where they were guided through group rituals to prepare themselves for membership. They were warned that anyone who spoke about The Latitude in public would result in banishment. As one dispirited member recalls, “They were trying to sell me on the ability to hypnotize myself. And it worked.”
Mixing interviews with former group members and recreations of Latitude history, McCall spends much of the movie treating this as an active and real organization. It isn’t until we learn of the group’s real roots and its break-up that the film really engages interest.
The scope and scale of Latitude’s ambition are fascinating. One only wishes that McCall could have spent more time examining individual experiences within it instead of obfuscating his storytelling. He succeeds in capturing our interest, but leaves us wanting more than he delivers.
This film will be released on July 14, 2020 on VOD platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Tubi, etc. in the US and Canada.