Review: Jared Leto executive produced doc ‘HOLY HELL’ leaves a singed psyche.

HOLY HELL

Opening Theatrically May 27th, 2016

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A Film by Will Allen

Executive Produced by Jared Leto

*Sundance Film Festival – Official Selection*

What makes something a cult? According to the dictionary a cult is, “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.” If that’s so, then by definition aren’t most religions a cult? Can one individual spew crazy ideas and gather a following of people who seem to be functioning human beings despite the intrinsically ridiculous nature of the information they are being fed? Well, of course. Just ask Donald Trump. Executive Produced by Jared Leto, HOLY HELL takes us into a group defined by the outside as a cult. But what did the members believe then and now?

In 1985, Will Allen became a member of The Buddhafield, a Los Angeles area spiritual group. A recent film school graduate, Allen began to chronicle the group’s activities that centered on their leader, a mysterious individual they called The Teacher, or Michel. Over time, the group’s dark side began to surface, until finally, a shocking allegation against The Teacher tore the group apart – all in front of Allen’s camera. This incredible archive of video footage became the basis for HOLY HELL.

holy hellWill Allen‘s 22 years of footage appear, at first, to resemble a long-lost infomercial from the 80’s. It only takes a few minutes to realize that this is not VHS from our youth but the continuous documenting of a group of people seeking something different. What they ultimately find is a mysterious man who is nothing he claims to be. Utilizing intimate, present-day, sit down interviews with members of Buddhafield combined with Allen’s chronological documentation of the group’s daily activities, HOLY HELL is unlike anything we’ve seen before. To have such unguarded footage and insider knowledge is pretty unprecedented, especially for this length of time. From private therapy sessions to retreats, public outings and the eventual breakdown, each year is more shocking than the last. There are moments that will make you cringe, question your judgement, and certainly, times that will turn your stomach. HOLY HELL is as relevant today as it was when it began its seedling production. It will both open your eyes and terrify you.

Opening Theatrically May 27th, 2016

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.