February 29, 2024
Netflix

If you’ve ever found yourself utterly fascinated by the behavior of a cult that seems, in retrospect, to very clearly be a cult, then you probably loved Raël: The Alien Prophet. This new documentary, which just hit Netflix, tells the story of one of the stranger cults in history, this one based almost entirely around UFOs.

The documentary is fascinating because of the insight it provides into why this cult was appealing, even if those who weren’t a part of it can never fully understand everything that happened. If you’re someone who often finds yourself drawn to weird, cultish documentaries, then we have just the list for you. We’ve compiled a list of three documentaries about some of the strangest cults out there for you to check out.

Wild Wild Country (2018)

Fascinating both because of the strange behavior of its subjects and because of the strong reaction that the public had to this cult, Wild Wild Country tells the story of Bhagwan Rajneesh and his followers. Rajneesh set up what he believed to be a utopian society in the middle of the Oregon desert, but almost immediately ran afoul of local ranchers who wanted him and his people out.

The tension eventually boiled over, resulting in a massive wiretapping operation and the first bioterrorism attack on U.S. soil. It was a genuinely major event that has largely been forgotten by history, in spite of its lingering ramifications.

Wild Wild Country is streaming on Netflix.

The Vow (2020-2022)

Chronicling the story of the NXIVM cult in often excruciating detail, The Vow‘s multiple seasons follow former members of the cult as they explain both what happened to them and how they were sucked in to begin with.

The series also focuses on Keith Reneire, the cult’s leader, and his trial for sex trafficking and racketeering, among other crimes. Although the show got a bit long in the tooth for some, it undoubtedly helped pull back the curtain on one of the more sinister cults in recent memory, and one which many people fell victim to.

The Vow is streaming on Max.

Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults (2020)

The cult of Heaven’s Gate is perhaps one of the more famous in history, in part because it was one of the few cults where its believers were so ardent that they followed through on their beliefs, with devastating consequences. The series explains the history of the cult, and the way that its leader explained to his followers that they could ascend to a higher alien form.

Of course, the mass suicide that is the culmination of this story is a tragedy in and of itself, and this documentary takes plenty of time to make that particular piece of the story resonate with viewers who may come to the series only aware of the big picture beats of the story.

Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults is streaming on Max.

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