The 33 Best Cult Documentaries (Ranked 2024)

Orgies. Guns. Celebrities and heiresses to fortunes. Gurus driving Rolls-Royces.

Polygamy. Abusive yoga sessions.

Cult members kept in “The Hole” (cleaning bathroom floors with their tongues). Murder (of course).

You can’t make this sh!t up!

Below are my favorite cult docs with my ratings (1 to 100 for how watchable they are).

For the few I didn’t watch, I give an IMDB score if available.

1) Wild Wild Country

100/100

Yes, I’m giving Wild Wild Country a perfect score of 100 out of 100 (for watchability!).

“Wild Wild Country” delves deep into Oregon’s Rajneeshpuram… ever heard of it?

At 6 episodes (403 minutes), it’s beefy AND bingy.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a guru, and his hotshot secretary Ma Anand Sheela… what a duo!

They create a commune city with their band of red-robed followers — looking for Utopia…

But hold on… guns?

$5.3 million in wiretaps?

A bio-terror attack?

Rajineesh might need to rethink that Rolls Royce he rolls into town in.

You’re not in Kansas (err, Oregon) anymore!

The most thrilling bit: the sheer audacity of their plans. Sheela (at 31)… sure has chutzpah!

You think society has some nutty subcultures now? This takes the organic, gluten-free cake.

High points? Sheela’s interviews. Potential poisoning of a whole town?

Compared to other cult docs? I haven’t seen anything beat it.

“Wild Wild Country” is a vivid reminder: always background-check your neighbors. Happy viewing!

I watched it on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/title/80145240.

2) Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath

98/100

Leah Remini, once Scientology’s poster girl, rips the curtain with the Docuseries “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”.

Leah (at 46) does a 180 (she grew up with “The Church”. Fearless. She exposes. She reveals secrets… stuff they never wanted out: Accounts of abuse and coercion.

And she’s not alone. Other former members spill too. The church? They’re fuming, obviously. Most thrilling bit: live confrontations. Tense? You bet.

Now, I’m no cult expert. But this? It’s illuminating. Society idolizes celebrities, right? Here’s the underside… and it’s murky.

Highlights: heart-wrenching personal stories. Names, dates, locations… it’s all there. You’ll learn about “The Hole”. No spoilers, but… oh boy. Something missing? The church’s side… unsurprisingly. They won’t talk to the “Suppressives”

Compared to other exposé docs? This one’s rawer. Unfiltered. Real.

Dive into Scientology’s underbelly with Leah. Just remember: the deeper you go, the darker it gets.

I was so into the Leah Remini docuseries that I created a whole page for it here including where to watch it for free (and for rental):

https://dailydoc.com/leah-remini-scientology-and-the-aftermath/

3) Seduced: inside NXIVM Cult

98/100

Catherine Oxenberg brings her daughter India along to a self-help program called Executive Success Program (ESP).

“Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult” drags you, unsuspecting, into Keith Raniere’s web. The docuseries, clocking at 240 minutes (4 episodes), doesn’t skimp. If “Going Clear” gripped you, this NXIVM dive will get your heart racing. At its core? Manipulation. Power. Deception.

India Oxenberg (at 29) tells all. She’s the daughter of actress (and royalty!) Catherine Oxenberg brings India to the self-help program ESP that started all this. Other Hollywood peopleattend too including Jennifer Aniston. Catherine and Aniston don’t stick with it. India does.

Not only that, India becomes a core member of the secret “DOS sorority that brands NXIVM members’ inner thighs with Keith Raniere’s initials.

The brandings? Terrifying. Twisted “self-help”… remember those pyramid schemes? Worse. Much worse. A shocking fact? Other hollywood elites involved — their careers toppled.

So, think society’s past joining cults? This doc suggests otherwise. In a digital age, analog control thrives. The climax? A courtroom battle.

One hiccup: a deeper delve into Raniere’s psyche would have been nice

The world’s a stage, full of charismatic charlatans. Always double-check that stage door before entering… especially if it’s too shiny. Stay curious. But mostly? Stay safe.

Watch the first episode (53 min.) of it for free via Starz on YouTube: https://youtu.be/L6HwK5tbTzA; or on Prime Video at https://www.amazon.com/SEDUCED-INSIDE-THE-NXIVM-CULT/dp/B08L5P4BTB. Here are the other options on JustWatch: https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/seduced-inside-the-nxivm-cult

4) Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle

97/100

“Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle” dives deep into Jim Jones’ charismatic chaos. If “Wild Wild Country” had you hooked, Jonestown will make your jaw drop.

Running 240 minutes (4 parts), this docuseries is a journey.

The docuseries was released on the 40th anniversary of the tragic 1978 Jonestown mass murder-suicide.

It uses secret FBI and CIA recordings, unreleased photographs, personal letters, and previously classified documents.

Leonard DiCaprio Exec Produces this one . It’s based on the best-selling book (“The Road to Jonestown”) by investigative journalist Jeff Guinn.

Jones, at 47, led over 900 to their deaths. Why? Twisted ambition, sheer manipulation. The standout scene? Tapes of his sermons… chills guaranteed.

You think, “Could I get suckered in?” Turns out, it’s easy… disturbingly so. In a society thirsting for belonging, Jones’ cocktail was lethal.

It stands out among cult docs. Intense. Personal. But, fair warning, it’s not for the faint-hearted. I mean, a mass ‘Kool-Aid’ suicide? Gut-wrenching.

Missed? More background on Jones’ rise. Always leaves you wanting more, eh?

The gravity of this event? Staggering. 1978, Guyana, an eerie silence… and yet, this doc manages a few light-hearted jabs at human gullibility. Dark humor? Maybe we need it.

Takeaway? Question everything. Trust, but verify. Don’t just drink any Kool-Aid someone hands you… metaphorically speaking. Know your worth. And maybe, just maybe, double-check that charismatic leader’s intentions.

You can watch Jonestone: Terror in the Jungle for free here: https://archive.org/details/Jonestown_Terror_in_the.Jungle

Check out https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/jonestown-terror-in-the-jungle for other paid options to stream it.

5) Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

97/100

“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” rips the mask off Scientology. Ever wonder about this secretive religion? Now’s your chance. If you dug into “Wild Wild Country”, you’ll devour this 120-minute doc.

L. Ron Hubbard, Tom Cruise, John Travolta… big names. Bigger secrets. The E-meter sessions? Utterly captivating. They ask, “What’s your deepest sin?”

Lawsuits, scandals, and bizarre beliefs? This doc’s got it. But here’s the kicker: Scientology’s tax-exempt status. Yeah… still scratching my head on how they keep that one.

You’ll laugh. You’ll gasp. Might even facepalm once or twice. I did. Classic human behavior: seeking, believing, regretting… A celestial cycle of sorts.

Missed bit? The mysterious Sea Org… feels a tad skimmed.

Director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and The Armstrong Lie) partners with Lawrence Wright (author of the book “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief” (2013) put this together

This doc’s bold. Unsettling. A fierce contender in the exposé genre.

My takeaway? If a “religion” offers galactic overlord tales… Maybe double-check its return policy.

You can watch “Going Clear” on:

If you’re in Australia or New Zealand, support the folks at Madman who distribute Going Clear over there: https://www.madman.com.au/going-clear-scientology-and-the-prison-of-belief/

6) Waco: The Rules of Engagement

97/100

Listen, if you’re only gonna watch one documentary about the wholly bonkers 1993 Waco siege—and who has time for more than one 51-day standoff doc these days??—make it Waco: Rules of Engagement.

I’m telling ya, this 97-minute doc from 1997 has it all: sketchy government moves, religious weirdos locked inside a compound, tanks, a fire?!

Director Gazecki lays out the play-by-play of how the ATF (who even are these jokers?) bungled their raid and got into a fierce tussle with David Koresh’s Branch Davidians that left people dead.

Not ideal!

Then the FBI shows up trying to look all tough and competent, and they just make everything worse. Nice work, fellas.

What’s crazy is Gazecki landed interviews with Davidians who survived this mess by hiding in an underground shelter while their friends burned alive upstairs.

Also lots of chilling footage as the Davidians shot themselves inside Mount Carmel as things went to hell.

This doc will take you on a wild ride into the dizzying incompetence of federal agents and the ensuing tragedy they caused.

Maybe don’t watch it too close to bedtime lest you have some doomsday prophetic dreams.

You can watch it free on YouTube at https://youtu.be/VlN0kYoPHIU or on Kanopy (with library card) at https://www.kanopy.com/en/product/174222

7) The Most Hated Family in America

97/100

The Most Hated Family in America” is a punchy doc. The Westboro Baptist Church — dark realities…but right in the limelight.

Louis Theroux? He asks all the obvious and awkward questions.

Westboro founder Fred Phelps? Leader. He and family dominate the church. God’s wrath? Their gospel. Homophobia, xenophobia, and more.

One standout? Theroux’s dialogue with Shirley Phelps-Roper. Intense, disturbing.

Most exciting part? When Theroux challenges their beliefs. Does he get answers? No straight ones.

You like “Jesus Camp”? You’ll love this.

The Phelps family? They’re on a mission. Too extreme? You bet.

Missed in the doc? More on the defectors. Their journeys? That would’ve been something.

Confrontational interviews, shocking revelations. Expertly crafted. Topeka, Kansas? Seems ordinary. But it’s not.

In line with “Louis and the Nazis.” Deep, unsettling.

Watch it on BBC here https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b007clvf/louis-theroux-specials-the-most-hated-family-in-america

8) Keep Sweet Pray and Obey

96/100

Polygamy. Sexual abuse. A cult leader on the run getting $300,000 per week hidden in cans of tomatoes while he visits Disney World and Mardi Gras.

“Keep Sweet Pray and Obey” is like “Fugitive” meets “Big Love” meets NXIVM.

It’s the story of cult leader Warren Jeffs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church).

“Keep Sweet” is a 4-part, 282 minute docuseries with more time to dive deeper into the stories of Jeffs’ supporters (versus the early Jeffs doc “Prophets Prey” which clocked in at 102 minutes).

The lengthy format allows for heavy use of archival footage within the secret FLDS community.

The doc has extensive personal stories from those within FLDS affected by Jeffs’ leadership.

“Keep Sweet”? Eerie mantra. But there’s nothing sweet about this story.

It’s sharp, shocking, suspenseful.

Takeaway? Trust but verify. Always. Especially when they say “obey”. 🙂

It’s on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/title/81292539.

9) Jesus Camp

97/100

Ever seen kids praying to cardboard cutouts? “Jesus Camp” shows you just that. The doc takes you (99 minutes of raw reality) into an Evangelical Christian summer camp in Devils Lake (of course!?), North Dakota. Kids?

Indoctrinated. Drill sergeant? Becky Fischer, a children’s pastor.

Crux? The indoctrination of these young minds. The push to become God’s army? Creepy. The kid, Levi? Preacher at 12. Praying in tongues? You’ll see it.

If “The Most Hated Family in America” rattled you, this one’s a must-see.

Chilling scene? Kids crying and pleading for redemption.

“The Devil goes to church too.” Becky’s words. Leaves you thinking.

Data, facts? 25% of the US population identifies as Evangelical. There’s perspective.

Missed? The children’s life post-camp. An epilogue would’ve been a nice touch. Perhaps a sequel?

Like controversial religious docs? This one’s a home run. But if sensitive about religion? Might want to skip.

Watch it for free on Kanopy (requires your library card) at https://www.kanopy.com/fr/product/93733; on Amazon’s Prime Video at https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Camp-Becky-Fischer/dp/B001AMRHNU; or on Hulu at https://www.hulu.com/movie/jesus-camp-85b6180d-1df3-4e70-af22-f1087f650210.

Check out https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/jesus-campsome other streaming channels

10) Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple

95/100

This doc is the PBS take on the Jonestown massacre. Director Stanley Nelson (“Attica”, “Vick”) finds rare footage and interviews with eyewitnesses. It’s nearly as good as Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle and Heads-up: it has some raw and disturbing scenes, especially in the last half hour.

Spanning 86 minutes, this doc unmasks Jim Jones… a sinister puppeteer. Loved “Waco: The Rules of Engagement”? This will rattle your core even more.

Jones’ charisma? Chilling.

Facts hit hard. Over 900 dead (1978). In Guyana. A mass suicide cocktail. Horrifying. This doc stands tall in its genre, shining light where shadows lurk.

“Blind faith leads to blind alleys.”

My takeaway. Keep those eyes wide, buddy.

The climax? Heartbreak at the Kool-Aid scene.

Could a younger me be duped too? Scary to ponder. But hey, I’m easily lured by free stuff… Kidding. Kind of.

Tiny gripe… I wished for deeper dives into Jones’ early life. Missed chance?

ALWAYS, question.

Watch it for free on YouTube at https://youtu.be/tuxdb1pSVe8.

11) Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults

95/100

In 1975, 20 people go missing on the Oregon coast after attending a meeting about UFOs. The 2 leaders of the meeting claim to be millions of years old and from outer space.

Thus is the beginning of Heavens Gate — the largest mass suicide on U.S. soil.

The four-part docuseries, total runtime? 256 minutes.

Heaven’s Gate’s lure to members? Space salvation. You’ll sit, jaw dropped… “They believed what?”

Do (the leader, age 65) and Ti (48) lead this dance. Both charismatic, both… deluded?

Nike-clad suicides (1997). San Diego’s tragic mark. Thirty-nine lives. Gone.Best bit? Insider testimonies. Raw, real, revealing. But, why no deep dive into Ti’s early psyche? Missed trick?

Dark, enlightening… occasionally humorous. Always keep that questioning spirit, and don’t drink the Space-approved Kool-Aid… or whatever they’re serving.

You can watch it on HBO’s Max at https://play.max.com/show/83f1cb47-bce8-4e60-a9d3-9153e5d4c455 or on Spectrum (https://ondemand.spectrum.net/tv/cnn/19152572/heavens-gate-the-cult-of-cults/

12) The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin

95/100

“The Way Down” explores Gwen Shamblin Lara, founder of the Weigh Down Workshop diet program and The Remnant Fellowship Christian group.

It’s a 300-minute docuseries spanning 5 episodes. Who’s Gwen? Diet guru turned church leader. Think she’s pure? Twists await.

Remember “Wild Wild Country”? You’ll crave this. Gwen’s methods? Starvation masked as salvation. A scene where she rants about weight? Unsettling. Her mansion? Shows greed, not God.

Best part? Gwen’s drastic transformation. Platinum locks, gaunt frame. Jarring visuals! Money, manipulation, mega-church… a toxic trinity. “God wants you slim?” Hmm…

Did society fall for this? Sadly, yes. “God wants you thin,” she preached. Dark, right? The twist in 2003? Didn’t see that coming.

The doc missed a beat, though. Needed more on the kids… growing up in that chaos.

This isn’t just about weight. It’s power, control, and cults. “Crazy, cultish charisma” sums Gwen up. Hungry for an enthralling watch? Here it is.

Stay curious, and don’t swallow everything. Not even diet advice!

You can watch it at https://play.max.com/show/1e47a6d6-955c-4ce4-92b0-bc170075432a

13) True Believers

94/100

This 8-part, 45-minute each doc shot across diverse locales, takes you on an exhilarating journey through the underbelly of cults.

The series covers eight different cults. Each episode – a deep dive into a single cult. Names? Start with Order of the Solar Temple, Aum Shinrikyo…

From cult ideologies to their charismatic leaders, every detail exposed. It delivers the chills, especially when you hear former members narrate their lived nightmares.

A scene from the Solar Temple episode shakes you.

The hard fact? Thousands were duped. Innocent lives shattered. This series holds no punches. It screams – beware the charm of a cult leader.

So, let’s say it straight. This doc is a masterclass in exposing manipulative tactics and mental coercion.

But beware, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Graphic scenes and troubling stories could be a bit too much.

You can watch the full True Believers series on ViceTV at https://www.vicetv.com/en_us/show/true-believers. To get a taste, you can watch Episode 1 (Empire of Yoga) for free at https://youtu.be/Pi9S7X4PORs (though it’s poor quality).

14) Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started it All

94/100

Note: Some might say that the Hare Krishna movement is not a cult. I’m including it here because I’ve met 2 people who say they “lost” their parents to Hare Krishna. Both described it as a cult (though the doc does not touch on that part).

The doc “Hare Krishna!” takes us back. 1965, New York City. An old Swami, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, steps off a cargo ship. From his homeland, India, with nothing but a bag of books and a mantra, he starts a revolution. This 92-minute doc is a wild journey.

This doc shows how Swami Prabhupada built an international movement from the ground up, only armed with faith, a potent mantra, and a zeal to spread love.

The standout? That historic mantra rock dance, with the charismatic George Harrison. Also, the Hare Krishna Food For Life – the world’s largest vegan food relief org.

Swami’s motto: “Chant, and be happy.” It sounds simple, yet incredibly profound.

One fact: By 1977, the Hare Krishna movement had over a million followers. Mind-blowing!

One qualm? Could’ve explored more about the controversy surrounding the movement. More from people claming it’s a cult.

It’s a must-see for those seeking spiritual enlightenment. Those put off by religious movements, maybe give it a skip.

I watched it for free on Kanopy (requires a library card) at https://www.kanopy.com/en/product/1663823. It’s also on Tubi (with ads) at https://tubitv.com/movies/615614

15) Kumare

94/100

Kumaré, made in 2011, is a 84-minute mind-bender directed by Vikram Gandhi. Gandhi, a New Jersey native, pulls a fast one, morphing into a faux guru. He’s a wise man with an unwise plan. The setting? Sunny Arizona, where seekers seek anything, even a phony prophet.

Gandhi’s charade? Masterful. Long hair, a fancy accent, and poof, he’s “enlightened”. The followers? They’re a mix, from yoga enthusiasts to lost souls. They lap up his every word, oblivious to the ruse. The trick’s on them, but also on Gandhi. He’s knee-deep in ethical muck.

The climax hits like a splash of cold water. Gandhi reveals his true self. Tears, shock, anger. The emotions run wild. It’s more than a film; it’s a mirror. We see our gullibility, our desperate dance with faith. Kumaré isn’t just about the art of deception. It’s about finding truth in the least likely of places.

Watch Kumare for free on Kanopy (with library card or university ID) at https://www.kanopy.com/en/product/kumare

You can also watch the doc for free on Tubi (with ads) or rent it on Amazon, Apple TV, KINO Now, Google Play and YouTube. Check here for all links: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/kumare

16) Prophets Prey

94/100

Note: The trailer’s thumbnail above looks the same as “Keep Sweet Pray and Obey” (above from Netflix).

It’s the same subject but “Prophet’s Prey” is a different doc. It’s from Showtime and it’s another awesome dive deep into Warren Jeffs’ (50) sinister saga.

At 102 minutes, this cultish cousin to “Keep Sweet…” is creepy once again.

Convicted, and serving a life sentence (for the rape of young girls), he still holds a tight grip over 10,000 followers (Jeffs’ brother appears to now be running the FLDS).

Most haunting? Jeffs’ audio tapes. Caution: there’s a creepy audio recording of Jeff’s allegedly intimate with a 12 year-old girl.

Interviews in “Prophet’s Prey” include:

  • Sam Brower – Private investigator and author of the book “Prophet’s Prey” that inspired the film. Brower played an instrumental role in investigating Warren Jeffs and bringing his crimes to light.
  • Jon Krakauer – Journalist and author who had previously covered Warren Jeffs and the FLDS church. He served as an executive producer on the documentary.
  • Lawrence Wright – Journalist who reported on Jeffs. He provides commentary in the film.
  • Willie Jessop – Former bodyguard and once trusted follower of Warren Jeffs who later turned against him.
  • Carolyn Jessop – Former FLDS member who escaped the community and spoke out against the abuse.
  • Elissa Wall – Young woman forced by Jeffs at age 14 to marry her cousin. Her testimony helped convict him.
  • Nick Hanna – Prosecutor in one of the criminal cases against Jeffs.

It’s directed and written by Amy J. Berg and based on Sam Brower’s 2011 book of the same name. Brower serves as a producer and Ron Howard is an executive producer. Berg was approached by Sam Brower and writer Jon Krakauer with the idea for the doc.

The film argues Brower and Krakauer played a major role in Jeffs’s capture and the men appear as witnesses in the film and take consulting producer and executive producer credits respectively.

I watched it on Showtime at https://www.sho.com/titles/3423887/prophets-prey

17) Manson

94/100

Picture of Charles Manson for Best Cult Documentaries article
Charles Manson in a 1968 mug shot from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Manson is a ride through the twisted world of Charles Manson and his “Family”. This 1973 doc, running 83 minutes, dissects the notorious cult’s psyche and reign of terror.

If “Helter Skelter” (a docudrama) intrigued you, “Manson” will captivate you.

Set in Spahn Ranch, California – the infamous Manson Family HQ – it’s a deep dive into the 1969 murder spree that shook America. This doc doesn’t hold back. Details are grim and chilling.

Manson’s hypnotic hold on his followers – uncanny! The man knew how to bend minds. His quotes are haunting… “Death is a friend…”

A standout scene? Susan Atkins, aka “Sadie”, narrating the murder of Sharon Tate… It’s disturbing, yet you can’t look away.

In 1973, “Manson” showed America the dark underbelly of the Flower Power era. It revealed how a charismatic man exploited society’s outcasts, led them down a murderous path.

Few facts stand out: Manson, five foot two, controlled dozens… his “Family”, majority women… the murders, seven victims in two nights…

The film missed Manson’s eerie musical ambitions. A would-be rockstar turned cult leader – now that’s a twist!

“Manson” – a dark, gripping exploration of a twisted mind. A word of caution? It’s not for everyone. Some scenes will likely unsettle you.

Watch “Manson” for free on YouTube at https://youtu.be/M0-v8UGAMHw

ps: strange aside. Manson once listed himself as a “Scientologist”

18) Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator

94/100

In steamy rooms, Bikram Choudhury, the founder of hot yoga, led his empire. But behind the mat? A story you won’t believe. This 86-minute doc exposes his dark side. If you liked “The Jinx,” you’ll be engrossed in “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator.”

The scene with Sarah Baughn? Gut-wrenching. She recounted allegations of her unsettling encounters with Bikram. And those quotes… “I’m beyond Superman” really, Bikram? Bikram’s got balls!

We dive into specifics: 1970s – Bikram’s LA yoga boom. Fast forward to 2016, a jaw-dropping $6.8 million judgment against him. But where’s he now? That’s the teaser…

So, what’s the tea on hot yoga? Not as serene as you’d think. Choudhury’s ego, money, fame… A toxic cocktail. Ever done a yoga pose and felt a tad out of balance? That’s this doc in a nutshell. Hot, unsettling, and a stretch of the truth.

But, a tidbit missing? More voices from his inner circle.

My verdict? Eye-opening. A must-see in the crime doc genre. Not for the faint-hearted.

You keen? Dive in.

Stream it on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/title/80221584

19) Holy Hell

93/100

Step into Holy Hell, a 100-minute doc that’s a twisted treat. Ever been led astray? Well, Will Allen (50) did, for 22 years!

Thought Scientology was bizarre? This doc, charting the Buddhafield cult, takes the crown.

If you gulped down “Wild Wild Country,” Holy Hell will grip you.

Highlights? The leader, Michel. Claims to enlighten? More like a hunger for control. That scene where they’re all in white? Chills. Michel’s hypnotic dance sessions? Bizarre. Yet, followers swore it was…spiritual.

Ever think society’s a bit loopy? This doc… makes our quirks look mundane. “We thought we had the truth…” Spoiler: they didn’t.

By the way, wish there were more interviews with Michel. A true enigma…

Brutally honest? It’s a mind-bender. Not for everyone, especially if you dislike unsettling revelations. Think you know charisma’s power? Think again.

A gem in cult-focused docs. Some scenes, though, not for the squeamish. Want to delve deep? Challenge perceptions? Dive in.

You can watch it on Peacock at https://www.peacocktv.com/watch-online/movies/holy-hell/ac3170c3-279b-3a29-b5a1-8837d0c69795

20) Unveiled: Surviving La Luz Del Mundo

92/100

“Unveiled” plunges us into La Luz Del Mundo’s underbelly. This 120-minute doc showcases survivors and their tales.

Cult leader Naasón Joaquín García (aka “The Apostle”) once seemed holy. Turns out, quite the opposite. One victim, Maria (23), her story? Guts you.

“Unbelievable in 2020, right?” “How did this escape mass outrage?” Still a mystery.

Thought so too. Society’s blind spots, exposed. And the church’s wealth? Hard to believe.

One glaring miss? Garcia’s early influences. Craved that. The court trials, the testimonies… intense.

I watched it on HBO Max at https://play.max.com/show/3d446f26-6f99-453f-a635-a1a41160c512.

21) The Source Family

92/100

The Source Family dives deep into a 70s spiritual commune. At 98 minutes, this doc grips you.

A boy named Jim Baker (aka “Father Yod”) gets voted strongest boy in America; becomes a jujitsu master; is reported to kill a couple of people; starts a health food movement in LA; forms a cult driven by LSD, marries 13 women and robs 2 to 13 banks.

All the while, Father Yod (around 52 at the height of the story) cranks out a reported 65 music albums and they’re pretty darn good — Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) is a fan…I’m serious!

Then, with no training, Father Yod leaps off the cliffs over the Pacific Ocean strapped to a hangglider. Truth is stranger than fiction in this doc.

So, the climax? Edge-of-seat stuff. It’s Hollywood…but real. They were hip, sure. But where’s the line? Between avant-garde and absurd? The doc questions it.

Missing bit? Deeper dives into female members. Their voices felt muted. Compared to the higher-rated cult classics above. This one’s rawer, less polished.

Some might scoff, label it “hippie nonsense.” Still, there’s a tapestry of human searching.

Watch it for free on Kanopy (requires a library card) at https://www.kanopy.com/en/product/259029 or at Amazon Prime Video at https://www.amazon.com/Source-Family-Ahom-Aquarian/dp/B074W4SNM5/ref=sr_1_1

22) John of God

91/100

João de Deus (aka “John of God”). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jo%C3%A3o_de_Deus_-_John_of_God_-_Joao_Teixeira_de_Faria_2006.jpg

Note: Sorry, I couldn’t find a trailer for John of God so I used a pic above instead.

A 4-part doc, each piece a juicy 50-minute serving, filmed mainly in Abadiânia, Brazil.

João Teixeira de Faria (76), renowned spiritual healer, or charlatan? The series invites you to decide.

This doc follows Faria’s rise to global fame, his claims of healing via “Entity” spirits… until sexual abuse allegations topple his empire. Shocks, it does.

One scene burns into memory… A woman, blind faith in her eyes, swallows a surgical knife, a routine “healing” practice. Bizarre? Terrifying? You bet.

Here’s a number for you… Over 600 women accuse Faria. 600! And the series lets their voices echo. It forces you to question, “Who protects the vulnerable when faith turns predatory?”

What’s the big take? This doc warns us of the dangers lurking in the blind alleys of faith. It’s a stark reminder – question, always question!

I watched it on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/title/81103570

23) Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence

90/100

Brace yourself! This 90-minute doc offers a peek into an unimaginable web of manipulation.

Like “The Vow”? You’ll gulp this down. The central figure, Larry Ray (60), woos a group of young adults at the elite Sarah Lawrence College right outside New York, manipulates them into a sinister cult. It’s as creepy as it gets.

Ray weaves a network of control, enforcing absurd rules, dictating who sleeps with whom… the degree of control is chilling.

Ray forces the students to drain their parents’ savings (millions!) under the guise of “protection”? That part stays with you.

But the most gut-wrenching scene is when… Ray’s daughter and her roommates break free and confront him in court. Their courage… palpable!

This doc is a haunting testament to manipulation and the horrifying abuse of trust. It makes you question, “how far would I go for someone I trusted?”

I watched it on Hulu at https://www.hulu.com/series/stolen-youth-inside-the-cult-at-sarah-lawrence

24) The Vow

90/100

The Vow digs deep. A docuseries (9 episodes, 60 minutes each) uncovers NXIVM’s dark web. I rate Seduced: inside NXIVM Cult higher (see above) but if you like cult stuff, they are different enough that you’re going to want to watch both.

Keith Raniere…the villainous “Vanguard.” Charismatic lead of NXIVM. Manipulative? Of course — this is a cult doc!

“Do people know they’re in a cult?” I wondered. Sarah Edmondson’s branding scene? I didn’t see that coming.

NXIVM preached self-help. One surprise: much of their help worked. Many members swear by the curriculum.

Behind scenes? A whole lot darker. Allison Mack’s involvement? Bizarre and shocking.

But those members weren’t part of “The Vanguard’s” inner Slave and master circle.

The climax? A court case. Nail-biting. Edgy. But, no spoilers here!

Missing elements? Deeper dives into DOS’s inner workings. Raniere’s early life? Glossed over.

The Vow is a cautionary tale of blind loyalty.

I watched it on HBO’s Max at https://www.hbo.com/the-vow

25) Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony Alamo

89/100

One of the most sadistic cults you’ve never heard of. Meet the man who’s had 24 wives and still has followers today.

“Ministry of Evil” A doc that unveils the twisted tales of Tony Alamo. Cult leaders abound, but Alamo? He’s something else.

You’ve seen cult stories. But this? It’s dark-side-of-the-moon bizarre. “Who could follow such a man?” You’ll ask yourself. Yet, hundreds did.

Tony, the flamboyant preacher. Susan, his equally fervent wife. Together? Unstoppable. Their empire, built on fear and faith, spanned decades. And the abuse? Heartbreaking.

Highlights? Those personal testimonials. Victims (some mere kids as young as 7) detailing horror tales. And that raid scene… intense and real.

Most exciting part? Tony’s downfall. But I won’t spill.

Power dynamics, abuse, and mind control. It’s all here. Disturbingly detailed.

My take? Ministry of Evil does justice. It showcases the dangers of blind faith and unchecked power. It’s a wakeup call, really.

Critique? Needed more on Alamo’s early motivations. And maybe, the aftermath for his followers. How do they cope now?

Compelling. Disturbing. An emotional rollercoaster.

Not for? Those sensitive to child abuse tales. But if you’re into deep dives into human psychology? Don’t miss it.

Watch it on Amazon’s Prime Video at https://www.amazon.com/Ministry-Evil-Twisted-Cult-Alamo/dp/B07NKBXFK8 or Sundance Now (https://www.sundancenow.com/series/watch/ministry-of-evil-the-twisted-cult-of-tony-alamo/b533c2dd51c8f5fc?season=1). Other options are here: https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/ministry-of-evil-the-twisted-cult-of-tony-alamo

26) My Scientology Movie

89/100

“My Scientology Movie” dives deep. 99 minutes. A different look at Scientology. Liked “Going Clear”? You’ll devour this.

Louis Theroux? Ace reporter. Dives headfirst. Challenges the Church. Recreates their practices. Ex-Scientologists help. It’s revealing… and a tad unnerving.

Yes, this is another scientology doc here. Sorry, but just like with NXIVM’s multiple docs, scientology is just too good to limit your cult-viewing satisfaction to one doc!

And who doesn’t like watching Louis Theroux poking his nose in dangerous stuff. He’s silly but the story he investigates is real.

Marty Rathbun (56) is a former church inspector. Spills some beans. Quotes? “They’re not playing around.” Clear warning.

Standout scene? Theroux trying E-meter. Electrifying… literally.

Most exciting? Those confrontations. Church members vs. Theroux. Tense. Unpredictable.

“How does he do it?” Bravery? Foolishness? Both?

Theroux’s humor? Spot on. Society? Mocked gently. No harm done.

But missed opportunity? More on Miscavige (56), the Church head. Always intriguing.

And even if you’re bored of Scientology, it has that Theroux twist.

Watch it for free on Kanopy at https://www.kanopy.com/en/product/my-scientology-movie-1 or on HBO’s Max at https://www.hbo.com/movies/my-scientology-movie

27) Beyond Our Ken

88/100

IMDB Score of 8.3/100 (831 votes)

“Beyond Our Ken,” directed by Luke Walker and Melissa Maclean, takes us into the heart of Kenja Communication, a notorious Australian cult.

Released on 18 September 2008, this 88-minute doc is a deep dive into a world of spiritual manipulation and alleged abuse.

The film gains remarkable access to Kenja.

You’re getting an insider’s look at the lives touched and twisted by this group.

Ken Dyers and Jan Hamilton, Kenja’s leaders, open up.

But, while Initially cooperative, their façade begins to crumble under scrutiny.

The doc reveals disturbing things about Dyers, leading to a dramatic and tragic end.

It’s a story of lost souls and broken families. The film shows how environment shapes our reality, presenting a reality as fragile as truth itself. For anyone interested in the anatomy of cults, “Beyond Our Ken” is an eye-opener. It’s a journey into the depths of human vulnerability and the dangers of unquestioned belief.

Watch “Beyond Our Ken” for free on Kanopy here: https://www.kanopy.com/en/product/beyond-our-ken-1 (requires a library card or University ID).

Check here for other streaming options: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/beyond-our-ken

28) Cults and Extreme Belief

88/100

“A&E Investigates: Cults and Extreme Belief” is a 2018 docuseries on NXIVM, Jehova’s Witnesseses, Children of God, U.N.O.I., World Peace and Unification Sanctuary and Twelve Tribes.

This docuseries, clocking in at 9 episodes, throws you in. It’s “Going Clear” on steroids. Elizabeth Vargas leads the charge. Her approach? Incisive. The interviews? Raw and revealing. Stories of coercion, manipulation… it’s harrowing.

A highlight? The episode on NXIVM. Remember “Branded women”? Episode 3.

Did Vargas hold back? Not a bit. Direct quotes? Plenty. “We believed… to our peril”, one ex-member murmurs.

The psychology? It could’ve delved deeper. I craved more.

Watch it on Hulu at https://www.hulu.com/series/cults-and-extreme-belief-732b89b1-7af0-4bed-9a28-6ca51d2b1e69 or see other options at https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/cults-and-extreme-belief

29) Pray, Obey, Kill

88/100

“Pray, Obey, Kill” is chilling. A doc on Sweden’s shocking Helge Fossmo case. Think Scandi-noir meets real-life crime.

A pastor? Messages from God? Murders? Sounds nuts, right? Wrong. It’s real.
Fossmo, the charismatic pastor. Brainwashes. Seduces. Sara Svensson? His accomplice. Calls? Texts? Dubbed “SMS Murder.” Tech-driven manipulation. Creepy.

Standout? That eerie interrogation. Svensson (29) describes the hits.

Most thrilling? Piecing the puzzle. Investigators do their thing.

“Can people be so gullible?” Sadly… yes.

The doc captures it. Darkness in daylight. Society? Flawed, easily swayed.

Missed chances? More on the church community. Their psyche?

A blend of interviews, reconstructions. Super detailed. Knutby? Small town. Big scandal.

I watched “Pray, Obey, Kill” on HBO’s Max but it’s no longer on there. Ping me if you know a new place to watch it and I’ll add the link here — thanks!

30) The Deep End

87/100

“The Deep End” dives into Teal Swan’s world: 160 minutes of hypnotic allure. Liked “Wild Wild Country”? This’ll grip you tighter.

It opens. Teal (38) claims: “I’m the spiritual catalyst.” Bold? Definitely. Followers (ages 25-55) hang on every word. They’ve swapped mainstream mania for mystic melodies. Smart move? You decide.

Solis moment? Teal’s past-life regression. Viewer discretion? Advised. One fan, Emily (29) reveals, “She unlocked my trauma.” Strong stuff, right?

What lacks? Teal’s critics. Voices from naysayers. Controversy, anyone?

It’s spirituality on steroids.

But, a heads up. If cult-skepticism isn’t your thing, swerve this.

For the rest? Ready to question everything? This doc delivers. Get cozy, but keep that skeptic cap on. Final words? Beware of false prophets…

You can buy it on AppleTV at https://tv.apple.com/us/show/the-deep-end/umc.cmc.4plghbgfxo0z405p7rgxnlh1l and other places (see https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/the-deep-end-2022).

31) Scientology and Me (BBC Panorama)

IMDB Score = 8.3/10 (178 votes)

Here’s a 29-minute episode from the BBC show Panorama.

It’s from Season 55, Episode 19 that aired May 14, 2007.

It’s mostly about the U.K. presence of Scientology.

There’s an interview with a mom of a woman who feels her daughter has been taken from her.

There’s a video of John Travola being interviewed at Scientology event in which he says:

“There’s no doubt about it that the people who didn’t make it in Hollywood…and I mean survive… if they had had Scienotology or Dianetics, they would have been here today…whether it’s Elvis or Marilyn…”

— John Travolta

You can watch Scientology and Me from BBC Panorama here: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5pd8rb.

32) Witness Underground

IMDB Score = 9.4/10 (31 votes)

“Witness Underground,” released in 2021, spotlights an unlikely subculture in the heart of Minnesota.

It’s a close-knit group of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but with a twist – they are fervent punk rock enthusiasts.

Here’s the scoop:

The doc, directed by Scott Homan, primarily takes place in Minneapolis.

It centers around Ryan Sutter, a pivotal figure in this underground scene.

Sutter, along with his friends, faces a complex dance between their devout faith and their passion for punk rock – a genre often seen as rebellious and unorthodox.

The doc covers the period from the early 2000s to the 2010s, showcasing how this group navigated their dual identities.

We see intimate gatherings, DIY punk concerts, and the creation of their zine, “Theocratic Times.”

This zine, brimming with articles, interviews, and art, becomes a symbol of their struggle and creativity.

“Witness Underground” shows the power of art as a form of resistance and identity.

Watch “Witness Undergound” by renting it ($10 last I checked) on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/witnessunderground

33) The Seventies: “Crimes and Cults”

IMDB Score = 8.3/10 (140 votes)

The 1970s was a decade of dread.

CNN’s “Seventies” series covers notorious serial killers like Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, The Zodiac Killer, The Hillside Strangler, John Wayne Gacy and the Son of Sam

The stoked fear and alarm across the nation as violent crime and murder rates rose.

Watch “The Seventies: Crimes and Cults” on HBO’s Max here

Check https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/the-seventies for other options (you could buy a season off Apple TV and Vudu Fandango last I checked)

–Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly, Chief Maniac of Daily Doc