By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Why do cults always seem to end up the same way? Maybe it’s giving unmitigated power and trust to a single person, then assuming this human being will be able to refrain from abusing it forever. This isn’t really something most humans are capable of.
I’m diabetic, and I can’t even say no to this motherfucking abomination.
Holy Hell came about when cult-member and official filmmaker for the cult XXX decided to craft a film from all the footage he shot and interviews of his former cult-mates to reach some catharsis about his experiences. Surprise: it gets dark.
Holy Hell is practically a field guide to using the power of suggestion and unshakable conviction to subsume others to your will. Highly codependent people and pathological narcissists… sounds like the scientific formula for the phenomena alright.
Clearly, dozens of cats in cute little hats is a better choice.
When you put some weirdo with an unidentifiable, variable accent, spouting vague spiritual nothings while inviting a bunch of suburban white kids (it’s always suburban white kids) to drink in his great abs and have one on one cleansing sessions, predicably, things are going to go crazy.
It starts with the elaborate dance productions only for and starring that weirdo, then goes to having somebody carry around his special chair everywhere for him, then banning TVs and dogs. Then, of course, the sex stuff comes out, and it’s heart-breaking and disgusting and turns something that just feels off but could have turned out to be relatively harmless into something soul-scorching. Which, of course, is always a possibility when you redesign your entire life around somebody like this:
What is ultimately most ground-breaking about Holy Hell, though, is how it helps you understand how this can happen to normal, intelligent, loved as children people. Here’s a clue- get out when they start asking for money and then use even a rusty cent of it on self-aggrandizement.
The ending hugs and self-actualization montage/music video of the former, and in some cases, maybe still current, cult members doesn’t feel earned in a way, especially after Michel so easily shakes them off when confronted in Hawaii. More confrontation was warranted, and I doubt they can ever fully close this chapter of their lives until it occurs. Hopefully the existence of this film itself will help with that.
Holy Hell puts you right in the middle of a cult right from bright beginnings to inevitable, power lust-induced unraveling.
Holy Hell (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for unnerving eye contact from Michel/Andreas/Reyji
Take a Drink: whenever he dances
Take a Drink: for red flags
Take a Drink: for that speedo
Take a Drink: whenever an interviewee expresses disbelief at their past actions
Take a Drink: whenever an interviewee cries
Do a Shot: when you need it