7 Best TV Shows & Films About Cults On Netflix UK That'll Leave You Reeling
Cults. OMG cults. Even the utterance of the word makes me simultaneously curious and terrified. And the public's morbid fascination with cult leaders, their members, the goings on inside these organisations, and just how people manage to get sucked in makes for endless entertainment. Whether it's documentaries or totally fictional, I'm there. And, luckily for me and all my fellow fascinated friends, the best TV shows and movies about cults on Netflix UK are just a click away.
According to the Guardian, there are three defining traits to a cult. They are:
- "A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power."
- "A process [of indoctrination or education is in use that can be seen as] coercive persuasion or thought reform [commonly called 'brainwashing']."
- "Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie."
Right so basically a whole lot of seriously scary stuff. And it's so easy to think "meh that would never happen to me!" But that's what everyone thinks at first... which is why these stories are so darn fascinating.
Read on for my pick of the best 7 TV shows and movies about cults on Netflix UK. Happy watching!
1. 'Wild Wild Country' — 2018
Oh my days this documentary series is the kind of one you marathon in one sesh because it will make you no longer care about sleep. The story of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (AKA Osho) and his organisation, who took over a small rural town called Antelope in Oregon, will shock and fascinate you.
This group had a lot of parties, dancing, matching garms... oh, and they allegedly threatened and poisoned a heap of people. What? Yes.
The members of the group, sannyasins, as they were known, lived a simple life on a huge ranch in Antelope. However, it was reported that Rajneesh lived a pretty insanely luxurious life, owning an estimated 90 Rolls Royces, the BBC reports.
This is one of those series that will have you shouting "OMG!" every now and again.
2. 'Holy Hell' — 2016
Holy Hell is a firsthand account of the experience of being in the Buddhafield group. It was made by documentarian Will Allen, who became a member of the cult after he was kicked out of his house for being gay.
In this documentary, Allen speaks to other former members and utilises all of the footage he captured of their leader Jamie Gomez, who has also been known as Michel, Andreas, The Teacher, or Reyji.
Buddhafield began as a fun and loving experience for those involved but as the leader's paranoia and lust for power and adoration grew, things took increasingly sinister turns.
Filming is largely based in Hawaii where the group actually still exists.
3. 'Three Wives One Husband' — 2017
Is there actually anything more fascinating than people who are part of polygamist organisations? How about adding onto that the fact that they also live in houses carved into cliffs? I know, right?
This series is about the lives of fundamentalist Mormon in polygamist relationships, their families, and how it all works.
Sam Wollaston over at the Guardian hit the nail on the head when he described it as "pretty much one long OMG WTF."
This is one of the more lighthearted on this list.
4. 'Enlighten Us' — 2016
James Arthur Ray was a self described "guru" who aimed to enlighten people via seminars, events, and incredibly expensive retreats.
After appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Ray and his self-help teachings became huge. In 2009, he organised a five-day "Spiritual Warrior" seminar, which involved extreme fasting in the middle of the Arizona desert. All for $10,000. Very quickly, though, things began to go wrong. According to The Verge, three people sadly died and 18 more were hospitalised.
You can watch the rise and fall of this self-help guru in Enlighten Us.
5. 'Aquarius' — 2016
Aquarius is a fictional crime drama set in '60s America during the rise of Charles Manson and 'The Family.'
David Duchovny stars as an L.A. police sergeant who is investigating Manson and his control over his followers.
Based on The Family and real-life their deeds, this makes for a very interesting take on a very well-known story. Sadly the show has now been cancelled, but both of the first seasons are available for your viewing pleasure right this minute on Netflix UK.
6. 'The Family' — 2019
Gosh where do I begin. This series is fairly new to Netflix and brings to the front a terrifying organisation that appears to have its finger in some of the most powerful pies across the world.
Half documentary half dramatisations, this is the story of a group described as having "tentacles around the world." Featuring interviews from both former members and experts on the matter that will leave you reeling.
Perfect for those who love a conspiracy theory.
7. 'Inside The Criminal Mind', Ep 3 — 2018
OK so this episode isn't just about one cult but about a whole bunch of them. Looking at leaders from David Koresh of the Branch Davidians, to Charles Manson, to Jim Jones of Jonestown.
An interesting mix of expert commentary, archival footage, and looking at what makes a person become a maniacal cult leader.
Hopefully after all of this pleasurable and fascinating viewing you will feel confident that you won't join a cult. Or start one.