Cult documentaries are at all times instructed in hindsight. You may’t watch Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults with out viewing it by means of the lens of mass suicide, nor are you able to watch a documentary on the Department Davidians with out contemplating the Waco siege.
Nevertheless, one cult documentary now streaming on Amazon Prime actually immerses you into the moments of the cult’s peak by means of archive footage and surprising revelations.
Holy Hell follows its director, Will Allen, as he recounts his journey inside the Buddhafield cult, a New Age non secular sect that popped up in Nineteen Eighties Los Angeles. Hollywood is a sensible breeding floor for cults like this, as exemplified by means of the Supply Household, Heaven’s Gate, and Scientology. Hollywood is the place you go to discover New Age beliefs.
It is also the place you go to chase your desires as an actor, which is exactly what Michel Rostand did. After a couple of bit roles in motion pictures like Rosemary’s Baby, he modified profession paths and took on the function of a lifetime — cult chief. He rebranded himself as a yogi and religious chief named Andreas and commenced luring followers by means of his philosophy of spirituality, chastity, and purity.
Holy Hell would not middle Andreas, as an alternative specializing in Will’s path within the cult alongside along with his sisters. Will spent his years there documenting their actions on video, so each second is proven because it occurred. There are not any re-enactments, simply actual individuals below actual cult management.
By way of greater than 20 years, Allen exhibits each facet of the Buddhafield — the forest retreats, the open-eye meditation, the extreme one-on-one remedy, and the rampant sexual exercise that lurked beneath the doctrine of chastity. After the Waco siege, Andreas was afraid of the interference of legislation enforcement and moved the whole group throughout the nation to Austin, Texas.
It is then that issues began to get bizarre. Andreas would management each a part of his followers’ lives, from what they purchased to the place they went. All followers had jobs they accomplished fortunately regardless of them feeling degraded by them. Will Allen’s job was to direct propaganda movies purporting Andreas as a Messiah and function a private masseur.
The strangest a part of the Buddhafield is the obsession with artwork. The followers constructed a complete amphitheater from scratch for Andreas. He would choreograph large-scale ballets all of the members have been required to bounce in, and he would at all times make himself the star. The cult created lavish units, costumes, and choreography solely to carry out the ballets precisely as soon as.
Many cult leaders have large egos, however Michel Rostand takes that to a brand new degree. In response to ex-members, he would use his followers to check out cosmetic surgery earlier than he would endure the operations, and he would typically put on false eyelashes. He was obsessive about exterior magnificence for himself and others.
Sadly, the Buddhafield is not the story of a kooky charismatic character and those that believed in him. It is the story of a pacesetter who groomed after which preyed on his followers. Will Allen, in a second of heart-rending vulnerability, exposes what Andreas actually did to him, after which will get related tales from others. There is not any such factor as a innocent cult.
Often, the tip of this story could be the cult’s implosion and the relegation of its chief again into obscurity. That is not the case in Holy Hell. Whereas I received’t give away too many particulars, the ultimate sequence of the documentary is haunting and contains the most effective use of “Chasing Automobiles” in cinematic historical past.
Whereas cult documentaries are normally fascinating, this private story of a lesser-known cult reaches new heights of immersion. It could be an unpleasant story, nevertheless it’s introduced in such an exquisite kind, you will not be capable of look away.
Holy Hell is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
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