The new film Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer begins with a title card: “Most incidents portrayed are exact representations of court transcripts, police interviews, or eyewitness accounts.” Those familiar with the case involving the Philadelphia abortion doctor—and that’s not many; a big part of the story is how the media had to be shamed into covering it—can testify to the fact that the movie does in fact hew pretty closely to events.

It’s based on a long and horrifying article written by Philadelphia magazine’s Steve Volk, who conducted extensive interviews with Dr. Kermit Gosnell in prison, where he is serving life without parole. If anything, the movie had to tone down the details Volk and others reported, as they were so horrifying that the reality might have seemed over the top. Here’s how an incident early in Gosnell’s career, in which he performed 15 abortions on second-trimester women using an experimental medical device, was described in grand jury testimony:

At the time that he agreed to do this, there was a device that he and a psychologist were working on that was supposed to be plastic—basically plastic razors that were formed into a ball. All right. They were coated into a gel, so that they would remain closed. These would be inserted into the woman’s uterus. And after several hours of body temperature . . . the gel would melt and these 97 things would spring open, supposedly cutting up the fetus, and the fetus would be expelled. . . . This was not something that was sanctioned by the FDA. This was just something that he decided—he and this guy decided they were going to use on these women.

The women were seriously injured, and one had to have an emergency hysterectomy. And this all happened on Mother’s Day in 1972, which is the kind of thing that, in a fictional script, would seem both needlessly sadistic and a little too on the nose. Instead, Gosnell simply refers to the device as a “ball of blades” and makes passing reference to the “Mother’s Day massacre,” which is devastating enough. Gosnell faced no professional or criminal consequences from the 1972 incident, or from the 46 lawsuits later filed against him, until his disgusting clinic was raided in 2010 as the result of an unrelated criminal investigation into drug running.

Aside from being convicted of killing babies born alive—he may have killed thousands of babies this way—Gosnell was convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of a patient. There are good reasons to believe that many more of his patients may have suffered serious complications or even died from his negligence. (Among other things, Gosnell’s penchant for reusing medical instruments without proper sterilization passed sexually transmitted diseases to his patients.) The titular description of him as “America’s Biggest Serial Killer” doesn’t seem like hyperbole.

One horrifying detail from Volk’s reporting that does make its way straight into the movie is that while Gosnell’s home was being searched, the doctor sat down at the piano and played Chopin while the cops were busy uncovering jars full of baby parts and venturing into a basement so flea-infested they had to don hazmat suits.

Despite all this, the film is not especially lurid or macabre. It plays out as a straight police and courtroom procedural and feels and looks like a basic cable, made-for-TV movie, albeit a better than average one. The comparatively minuscule budget for Gosnell was mostly covered by $2.3 million raised in crowdfunding from conservatives and pro-life activists. While it would have been nice to see what an A-list director with a big budget could have done with such source material, it goes without saying that the entertainment industry wasn’t about to make this film. After all, it reaches the inescapable conclusion that women and children died at the hands of a monster because liberal orthodoxy carves out an exception for abortionists from its usual insistence that medical practitioners be adequately regulated and scrutinized.

Instead, Gosnell was made by a who’s who of those who are openly conservative in Hollywood. Veteran actors such as Dean Cain, Sarah Jane Morris, Earl Billings, and Janine Turner do fine jobs. Nick Searcy, a talented character actor best known for playing Raylan’s boss on the TV series Justified, ably directs the movie and nearly steals the show as Gosnell’s aggressive lawyer. And the script is very strong thanks largely to the work of Andrew Klavan, the acclaimed novelist and screenwriter who has a sideline as a conservative blogger.

I would be remiss if I failed to add that Cyrina Fiallo does a fine job of portraying “Molly Mullaney,” a character that is a composite of two real-life journalists. The first, Philadelphia reporter J. D. Mullane, doggedly covered the trial when the national media ignored it. The other is my wife Mollie, a media critic who also extensively covered the story and got a Washington Post health care reporter, whose political sympathies were rather obvious, to admit she wasn’t covering the Gosnell trial because it was a “local crime story,” prompting considerable social media outrage. (Fiallo is lovely, and I hope she will forgive me for also saying that this may be a rare instance of the Hollywood star’s being less attractive than her real-life counterpart. Consider any bias I might have here disclosed.)

Abortion rights are such an inviolable part of the belief system of the American left that no doubt many will dismiss the film as a right-wing political statement, which would be deeply unfair. Husband and wife documentarians Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney not only cowrote the script but worked tirelessly outside the Hollywood system to get the film made. And given its budget and the obstacles to even getting a film such as this completed, Gosnell is better than anyone expected. If that seems like damning with faint praise, it’s not. The film accurately depicts actual events, thereby displaying more integrity than, say, recent HBO films about Sarah Palin and Anita Hill, which did little more than dramatize predictably partisan caricatures.

There’s no getting around the film’s lack of the high-gloss production values that only money can buy. But no fair-minded person can argue that Gosnell doesn’t do one thing good art is supposed to do: tell the truth. That it took small donations and a handful of actors risking their careers to call out such obvious evil and injustice says a lot more about the politics of Hollywood and the media than it does about conservatives.