Much has been said about Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” and how it was inspired by Scientology. It’s gotten to where people are convincing themselves that it is an expose of a religion many consider a cult, and that’s even though Anderson and his actors have made it abundantly clear that it is not. While there may be similarities between the movie and what L. Ron Hubbard created all those years ago, “The Master” is really its own separate thing. But for those of you who are looking for movies about cults to watch, these ones are more likely to fit the bill.
“Sound of my Voice”
The most recent movie on this list, it stars Brit Marling (who plays Richard Gere’s daughter in “Arbitrage”) as Maggie, a woman who says she is from the future and preaches to her followers in a neighborhood of Southern California. A journalist and his girlfriend end up getting pulled into her realm to where they cannot be sure if Maggie is being serious or if she’s lying. A vastly underrated movie, this one has still not gotten the audience it deserves.
One of Roman Polanski’s very best movies has Mia Farrow playing Rosemary Woodhouse, a housewife who is expecting a baby with her husband Guy (John Cassavetes). Rosemary however soon comes to suspect that her little one is really the spawn of Satan as she suspects what those closest to her are up to. Her neighbors turn out to be part of a devil’s coven which believes that God is dead, and that includes Ruth Gordon who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as the nosy Minnie Castevet. The movie’s ending is an unforgettable shocker.
One of David Fincher’s best movies, putting this one on this list is complicated because the first rule about it is that “you do not talk about Fight Club.” But it’s impossible not to talk about this movie after you’ve seen it as Brad Pitt and Edward Norton form a cult that has men beating the living crap out of one another in order to feel something in a world that has made them feel completely numb. A box office disappointment upon its release, it has since become one of the most definitive movies of the 1990s.
“Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Another movie which came out not too long ago, it stars Elizabeth Olsen as a young woman who finds herself suffering from painful memories and severe paranoia after escaping a very abusive cult. It chronicles her efforts to re-enter the family life she had before she left, and her struggles feel very vivid thanks to Olsen’s tremendous performance which should have earned her an Oscar nomination (but didn’t). Kudos also goes out to actor John Hawkes (“Winter’s Bone”) who plays the cult’s horrifyingly-enigmatic leader Patrick.
“Eyes Wide Shut”
The great Stanley Kubrick’s last movie before his untimely death had Tom Cruise getting insanely jealous after finding that his wife (played by Nicole Kidman) contemplated having an affair behind his back. Cruise’s intense jealousy has him infiltrating a sexual cult where its members freely participate in orgies. The scene in which Cruise is forced to expose himself physically and emotionally is especially frightening because you’re not sure where it will lead.
“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”
Still the most controversial of all the Indiana Jones movies, it has since gained critical favor long after its initial release. While there are many things that bother people about the first half of “Temple of Doom,” the second half which introduces the audience to the Kali-worshipping thuggee cult puts the movie in an infinitely thrilling direction. This particular cult makes slaves out of children, practices black magic, and performs rituals of human sacrifices. It’s all intense stuff, and seeing Dr. Jones fight against it makes for one of the most exciting movies you could ever hope to see. Just remember to “cover your heart!”
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