There’s an old adage that nothing binds people together more than family. However, there are some families that are worth steering clear of, which brings us to the catchphrase, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.” The next time you’re approached by an overly-friendly, soft-spoken man or woman adorned in a robe who shuns technology and invites you to their remote commune for dinner, don’t walk, run in the opposite direction. In this edition of Found Footage Movies You Can Watch Now, we explore found footage films that feature the communities that everyone loves to hate—Cults.
Children of Sorrow (2012) – You’ll be Sorry You Went
We start our exploration of cults in found footage with the deeply disturbing Children of Sorrow (2012). Directed by Jourdan McClure and written by Jordan McClure and Ryan Finnerty, the film follows a young woman (Hannah Levien) who embeds herself in a cult looking for answers as to her sister’s disappearance, only to find a dark secret within the cult and an even darker secret within herself.
Children of Sorrow sets itself apart from other like-minded films (both narrative and found footage) through the incredible acting of the sizable ensemble cast. Each character has a purpose, motivation, and deep-rooted pain that makes them susceptible to the cult leader’s (Bill Oberst, Jr.) irresistible charm and persuasiveness. Bill Oberst, Jr. turns in a phenomenal performance as cult leader Simon and is the driving force carrying much of the film. Hannah Levien also does her part, owning every scene she’s in through her exceptional acting.
The film is not without some challenges. Children of Sorrow has some pacing issues, starting off relatively slow and taking its time to build momentum. However, this deficiency is more than made up for by the strong acting, good story, and pivotal climactic ending. Children of Sorrow is a worthy film to indoctrinate found footage fans into the world of doomsday cults!
- Children of Sorrow (2012) – Written Review
- Children of Sorrow (2012) – Movie Page
- Children of Sorrow (2012) – Movie Trailer
- Streaming Availability (Jan. 2017): Amazon On Demand, Google Play, iTunes, , Microsoft Store, Playstation, Vudu
The Sacrament (2013) – Please Pass the Kool-Aid
Break out the Kool-Aid—our next stop in cult lore is The Sacrament (2013), a found footage film written and directed by Ti West. The film is based on the real-life Jonestown cult massacre.
Similar to Children of Sorrow (2012), the protagonist (A.J. Bowen) visits a cult to check on the welfare of his sister from whom he received a cryptic letter. From here the two films diverge. In The Sacrament, the protagonist openly visits the cult as a news journalist looking to write a story on the closed and secretive community.
The plot of The Sacrament follows the real Jonestown story nearly beat-by-beat. As is now general knowledge, the phrase “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid” owes its origin to Jonestown. Those readers familiar with the infamous story should have a good indication of how The Sacrament plays out.
The found footage cinematography in The Sacrament is well done but is not without some flaws. Some scenes contain non-diegetic music and there is one scene towards the end that ever so briefly breaks from the found footage conceit of the film. The acting in The Sacrament is good overall and the film has a strong factually-driven plot from which to draw from. While the story is entertaining and equally disturbing, much of the shock value may be lost on viewers already familiar with the Jonestown Massacre.
- The Sacrament (2013) – Written Review
- The Sacrament (2013) – Podcast Review
- The Sacrament (2013) – Movie Page
- The Sacrament (2013) – Movie Trailer
- Streaming Availability (Jan. 2017): Amazon On Demand, Google Play, Microsoft Store, Playstation
V/H/S/2 (2013): Safe Haven Segment – Insanity Times Infinity
Get ready, we saved the best doomsday cult for last! V/H/S/2 is the second film in the V/H/S series. The film is comprised of five short stories, the most noteworthy being Safe Haven—the subject of our discussion. Safe Haven is written and directed by Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Evans.
In short, Safe Haven is about a film crew conducting an interview with the leader of a cult called Paradise Gates. The segment starts out very slow and deliberate but quickly spirals out of control in a frenzy of activity.
As good as Children of Sorrow (2012) and The Sacrament (2013) are in telling their story, neither can hold a candle to the breakneck speed and pacing of Safe Haven. The story unfolds as a slow burn, but ends in a massive crescendo of violence, murder, suicide, gore, paranormal events, occult activity, monsters, crazed characters, and paranoia, that escalates right until the bitter end, with a satisfying grand finale. If we had the option of selecting any found footage film to dissuade you from joining a cult, it’s the V/H/S/2 short story, Safe Haven!
- V/H/S/2 (2013) – Written Review
- V/H/S/2 (2013) – Podcast Review
- V/H/S/2 (2013) – Movie Page
- V/H/S/2 (2013) – Movie Trailer
- Streaming Availability (Jan. 2017): Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Playstation, Microsoft Store
Browse All Cult Films on Found Footage Critic
If you ever feel lulled into the lore of joining a simple community, free of the trappings of modern civilization with the promise of eternal enlightenment then read on. Before you make any rash decisions, we implore you to watch some of the cult films on Found Footage Critic—if not for entertainment, then for self-preservation. And remember, “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid!”