Cults Onscreen: 'Wild Wild Country,' 'The Master,' 'True Detective' and More

1:46 PM 5/1/2018

by Annie Howard

With the recent arrest of 'Smallville' actress Allison Mack for her connection with NXIVM, real-life cults are getting more attention. Here is a list of 10 recent movies and shows that have focused on cults.

Elizabeth Olsen in 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'
Elizabeth Olsen in 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'
Courtesy of Big Beach Films

  • 'The Leftovers'

    The HBO series, created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, follows the people who remain on earth after 2 percent of the population vanishes. Naturally, a cult arises during the aftermath called The Guilty Remnants, whose leader is played by Emmy-winning actress Ann Dowd (The Handmaid's Tale). Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler and Amy Brenneman also star.

  • 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'

    Elizabeth Olsen stars in her breakthrough role, written and directed by Sean Durkin, where she flees an abusive cult into the care of her relative, played by Sarah Paulson.

  • 'The Master'

    Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams star in this Paul Thomas Anderson film, which centers on a cult called The Cause, whose leader is played by Hoffman.

  • 'Prophet’s Prey'

    Directed by Amy Berg, the documentary follows Warren Jeffs, a prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, and the women who follow him.

  • 'The Source Family'

    Directed by Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille, the documentary centers on a Hollywood-based cult called The Source.

  • 'True Detective'

    The first season of the HBO series, directed by Cary Fukanaga, follows two detectives, played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, who investigate a ritualistic murder.

  • 'The Path'

    The Hulu series, created by Jessica Goldberg, follows Aaron Paul, who suffers a crisis of faith after joining the "movement" his wife (Michelle Monaghan) was born into.

  • 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'

    In the Netflix comedy created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) moves to New York City after being rescued from a doomsday cult, where she was held prisoner in an underground bunker by a cult leader (played by Jon Hamm). Jane Krakowski and Tituss Burgess also star.

  • 'Waco'

    The Paramount Network miniseries, created by Drew Dowdle and John Erick Dowdle, follows the narrative of the 1993 seizing of David Koresh's Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Taylor Kitsch and Michael Shannon star.

  • 'Wild Wild Country'

    The Netflix docuseries follows the story of spiritual leaders Osho and Ma Anand Sheela, who founded a society in the Oregon desert.