Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

This past weekend, a group of “slack-jawed, potato-faced” neo-nazis marched through the University Of Virginia with tiki torches. They were ostensibly there to protest Charlottesville’s plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, but as this new documentary from Vice shows, it was more of a means to prove that the “alt-right” is, as reporter Elle Reeve puts it, “more than a meme, a real presence that can organize in a physical space.”

Although the documentary features moving interviews with Charlottesville locals and heartbreaking footage from the aftermath of the terrorist attack that left protestor Heather Heyer dead, it mostly chronicles Reeve’s time on the ground with the white nationalists as they try, and repeatedly fail, to make themselves look like the heroes.

She talks to the likes of Robert Ray, David Duke, and Matthew Heimbach, but the documentary mostly follows Christopher Cantwell, a notable neo-nazi who repeatedly contradicts himself by proclaiming the “alt-right” peaceful and law-abiding while also emphasizing that he and his fellow racists are “not non-violent; we’ll kill these people if we have to.” Basic questions are met with bilious streams of hatred toward people of color, the Jewish race, and Donald Trump himself, who Cantwell claims shouldn’t have “gave his daughter to a Jew.” And then there’s the final scene, when Cantwell lays out a literal arsenal of guns and other weapons while claiming that Heyer’s death was “more than justified.” The footage is queasy, sad, and infuriating, but it’s an essential watch.