Cults have always sparked much debate, as have religions, in history. They intrigue our society because of the mentality behind giving up your every day life in order to join and often be stuck in a group of people who worship certain values or a person. It’s a very distorted topic in society because cults look different to people on the inside as opposed to those looking in. However, there is almost always a sinister twist or something going on beneath the surface that can keep people from living independent lives.
Unbelievably, some confuse “cult cinema” with cult documentaries. Whereas movies like Pulp Fiction and Back to the Future earn cult status with life-long fans, a cult documentary is a real-life cult portrayed on film. These documentaries are always eye-opening and are often told by cult survivors who either escaped or were removed in order to recount what really took place in their own words. As a result, here are the 5 best cult documentaries that you can stream now.
WARNING: The footage shown in the trailers and documentaries may not be suitable for some people. Watch at your own discretion.
5. Waco (2018)
In Waco, Texas, the FBI and the ATF were involved in a tragic conflict with a fundamentalist religious sect known as the Branch Davidians, which resulted in the death of one of the agents.
This miniseries tells the account of the events that led to the deaths of 76 people from the point of view of the cult, and it provides new insight into what could have happened. There are definitely two perspectives here, one of the U.S. law and one of the Branch Davidians, but the members stand firm that they did everything to further God’s will. It’s tough to know the whole story, but the violence and fear comes across on camera, so it’s definitely worth watching to see for yourself.
You can stream this documentary on Fubo TV.
4. Heaven’s Gate: The Cult Of Cults (2020)
Members of the UFO cult known as “Heaven’s Gate” are easily dismissed as being deranged. However, Marshall Applewhite’s passionate, space-loving organization was a victim of the culture in which it operated at the time, which is the subject of this docuseries.
The members of this cult, which was considered one of the most extreme in history, were compelled to cut off all communication with the outside world. It had serious repercussions in that mass suicides began to happen.
You can stream this cult documentary on HBO Max.
3. Holy Hell (2016)
It wasn’t until he moved to the Buddhafield commune that director Will Allen discovered the true extent of what was going on. The organization had been in existence for more than 20 years when things eventually came to a head. As one of the best cult documentaries, Allen recounts his experiences as a member of the organization.
In the end, the leader was exposed for what he truly was: a vicious bully who used manipulation and coercion to gain control over his prey. You can stream this documentary on Tubi or Amazon Prime Video.
2. Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator (2019)
A new yoga craze swept the country in the early 2000s, ushering in a new period of yoga’s popularity in the United States. Bikram yoga, started by Bikram Choudhury, drew tens of thousands of practitioners and became a multimillion-dollar business.
Bikram, on the surface, appeared to be a calming presence. But, as cults often show us, these communities are not always what meets the eye. Hundreds of yogis were subjected to atrocities, and their empire was destroyed in this documentary.
You can stream Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator on Netflix.
1. Children Of God (1994)
As a leader in the evangelical movement, David Berg was a proponent of the “good news” from the beginning. Berg founded the Minors of God ministry since he saw he wasn’t receiving enough attention in the Christian world.
Polyamory and sex with minors were among the concealed theologies promoted by this ministry. It climbed to notoriety before its corrupt techniques were discovered, attracting the attention of celebrities such as the family of Joaquin and River Phoenix, as well as other well-known figures.
You can stream this documentary on Freevee, Prime Video, or the Roku Channel.
Check Out: 6 Best Streaming Services for Documentaries
Even though cults are known to be fronts for some serious crimes or sinister behavior, it is said that people often get roped into joining them by certain personalities, or a belief in something bigger than us in the form of religion. Check out our 5 best cult documentaries on this list to understand the back story behind these different cults and their members.