De Araújo’s film underlines this point, following a seemingly ordinary kindergarten teacher named Emily (Stefanie Estes) through an afternoon in her life. She leaves the school where she works, clutching a homemade cherry pie wrapped in foil. She walks over to a nearby church, where she hugs and greets a gaggle of similarly put-together white ladies dressed in Old Navy separates. Amid this domesticated crew are two younger women, both of them in hoodies with piercings and dyed hair. Emily sets her pie down on the table and lifts the wrapper for a shocking reveal: She’s carved a swastika into the upper crust. “Is this a joke?,” one of the women asks. It’s not, but they play it off as one.
Each of the members of Emily’s nascent far-right women’s group represents a different face of white supremacy: The radicalized punk, the bitter Boomer, the homeschooling housewife, the legacy racist. And the rationales they present for their bigoted views run a similar gamut, evoking “common sense,” “pride in one’s heritage,” and “reverse racism.” Black Lives Matter started it, they argue. They don’t hate anyone. They’re just defending their way of life. These catchphrases will be familiar to anyone who’s been at all politically engaged over the past five years or so. And de Araújo systematically presents each of them, words that will later be destroyed by her characters’ actions.
While impulsive ex-con Leslie (Olivia Luccardi) is the one who tips the afternoon’s proceedings into hate-crime territory, over the course of the film Emily emerges as a truly terrifying, even evil, figure. She’s knowingly bringing together disillusioned women and indoctrinating them into white supremacist talking points, molding them into useful soldiers in her imagined race war. She uses white supremacist ideas about gender and femininity as weapons as well, leveraging the sexism and homophobia of the movement to avoid responsibility for her actions. Her voice trembles when she asks her husband, “Do you want me to look at you like a f—, babe?,” using an anti-gay slur to bully him into accompanying her on a dark errand midway through the film.