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Shop of horrors

Earl Billings in Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer (Hat Tip Films)


Shop of horrors

The excellent film Gosnell very effectively portrays the murderous Kermit Gosnell

In a sane world, the crimes of late-term abortionist/serial killer Kermit Gosnell would receive the same Hollywood treatment as other horrifying true stories like ZodiacMonster, and In Cold Blood. It would have a large budget, a prestigious director, and A-list stars culminating in award nominations. But, of course, in a sane world the story would have received in-depth coverage from major media outlets as well.

Thus the theme of the movie is also the story of how it came to be made. As one character puts it, “[Gosnell’s] been killing babies for 30 years because nobody wanted to say anything. Nobody wanted to know.” Thankfully, after fighting an uphill battle to get funding, the filmmakers do a tremendous job with the limited resources at their disposal.

During what he thinks is going to be a routine drug bust, Detective James “Woody” Wood (Dean Cain) receives a tip almost too astonishing to be real about a house of horrors in a Philadelphia abortion clinic. The conditions he and his partner discover after they arrive to investigate are unspeakably unsanitary, with cats defecating in the halls and medical waste sitting alongside food in the fridge. When they come upon a room containing babies’ feet preserved in jars and hear the nurses describe Gosnell’s practice of “snipping” the spines of living infants, they realize their informant vastly undersold the true extent of the situation.

Hat Tip Films

Dean Cain as Detective James Woods (Hat Tip Films)

The biggest danger with a story like Gosnell (rated PG-13 for realistic language and violent images) is sensationalizing the more gruesome elements, accurate as they may be. Letting the story unfold naturally as a police and courtroom procedural, actor/director Nick Searcy (best known for TV series Justified) wisely errs on the side of understatement. He trusts the facts to speak loudly enough to the audience without his needing to hammer home a message.

And the facts are these—the law regarding late-term abortion is so morally muddled, Woody and assistant district attorney Lexi McGuire (Sarah Jane Morris) face a monumental task trying to prove that Gosnell’s pitiless slaughter of countless babies as well as one mother qualifies as serial killing rather than simply some form of gross medical malpractice. Just deciding to take the case to trial forces Lexi, a pro-choice mother of five, to confront the deeper implications of what she says she believes.

Hat Tip Films

Sarah Jane Morris as Assistant District Attorney Lexi McGuire (Hat Tip Films)

During cross-examination, the inherent irrationality of our nation’s approach to abortion law stands out in stark, neon relief. Particularly effective is an ongoing discussion of how, had Gosnell first “emptied the heads of the fetuses,” i.e., removed the babies' brains before removing them from the womb, as is the common practice for abortionists, the murders he carried out might not have been crimes. 

Thankfully, the performances, production, and pacing of the movie more than do justice to the difficult subject matter. Cain and Morris are both likable, effective leads, and the series of women playing Gosnell’s clinic employees are uniformly impressive. A lion’s share of credit must go, however, to Earl Billings as Gosnell. At one moment blandly compliant, at another arrogant in his rock-solid confidence that the third rail of so-called women’s health will prove too charged to allow his conviction. His smiling self-assurance that he’s a hero to the poor, minority women who visit his clinic is the stuff of nightmares.

Both as director and in his role as Gosnell’s attorney, Searcy is smart enough to make as strong an argument as possible on the abortionist’s behalf, refusing to flinch from the real-life allegations that race and religion played a role in Gosnell’s arrest. In fact, the most persuasive case he makes in Gosnell’s defense is that while his practice may have been sloppier than that of other clinics, it was no more inhumane.

Perhaps we should be glad that mainstream Hollywood, just like the mainstream media, had no interest in this story. It’s almost impossible to believe they would have told it so well.


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  • JerryM
    Posted: Tue, 10/09/2018 04:59 pm

    Let us pray that the circulation of this film will grow exponentially.

    Posted: Tue, 10/09/2018 05:12 pm

    "At one moment blandly compliant, at another arrogant in his rock-solid confidence that the third rail of so-called women’s health will prove too charged to allow his conviction. His smiling self-assurance that he’s a hero to the poor, minority women who visit his clinic is the stuff of nightmares."I could hear the "Twlight Zone" music as I read this description. 

    I pray for our nation...

  • Susan Houg
    Posted: Wed, 10/10/2018 10:05 am

    When and where will it be playing? Big screens, TV channel? Netflix download?

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Wed, 10/10/2018 10:50 am

    The movie will show in theaters starting Friday, Oct. 12.


  • VolunteerBB
    Posted: Wed, 10/10/2018 03:03 pm

    I read this book quite a few years ago, I'm not sure the movie will do it justice, but it sounds like it.  One part I remember was the description of officials going into the clinic in white hazmat suits, which are paper/plastic, and hearing a sound all around them and when they looked down at their pant legs of these suits, they were covered in tiny black dots...fleas!  Can you imagine the smell and horror of this place, and going in there for anything?  And the women who worked there???  Wow!

  • Beth
    Posted: Tue, 10/16/2018 11:15 am

    I had forgotten that scene from the book, but it definitely is in the movie!  I would say that the film definitely does justice to the book.  It helps that the book authors and the film directors are the same people.

  • Terry L Brown
    Posted: Sat, 10/20/2018 08:21 pm

    If you are pro-life I strongly encourage you to see the movie “Gosnell – The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer”. I also strongly encourage church groups to see this movie. The movie powerfully tells the true story of prolific and late-term abortionist, Kermit Gosnell, without being overly or unnecessarily graphic or sensationalized. Go see this movie and take someone with you.


    Gosnell ran an abortion mill in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for decades. But this abortion mill was in reality a House of Horrors. The staff was untrained and unlicensed; teenage girls administered powerful drugs to the patients as well as performing the duties of an anesthesiologist when needed. The premises were filthy, medical instruments were repeatedly used without being sterilized, blood was splattered on the floors and medical equipment, cats ran loose throughout the clinic, the severed feet of murdered babies were kept in jars, and dead babies were stuffed in plastic bags and strewn about in hallways and even put in a refrigerator that food was placed in.


    Yet, Gosnell ran this House of Horrors without fear of prosecution, or even inspections, by the Philadelphia Health Department for decades because cowardly, politically correct bureaucrats turned a blind eye to the atrocities committed by Gosnell which included not only the unsanitary conditions already mentioned, but the death of a woman resulting from the abortion of her child. Why? What were these politicians, these bureaucrats so afraid of that for 17 years Gosnell’s House of Horrors was considerable untouchable?


    Abortion was, and is, a powerful and well-funded evil industry that has bought and paid for, via campaign contributions, the support of government officials who become compliant and effective pawns in a game of life and death for innocent babies. Scared and fearful of their pro-abortion masters they meekly take their orders from them, voting to protect their interests – regardless of how horrific those interests might be.