20 films about sects, cults and secret societies

Belief in higher powers helps to find meaning in life and survive in difficult situations, but if seekers of spiritual light fall into dark sects, a real nightmare begins for them. Behind the reverent smiles of religious fanatics, swindlers, sadists, murderers can be hidden. This deceptive holiness more than once led to tragedies later shown in the movies. In the list of the best films about sects, cults and secret societies, you will find intense dramas, fast-paced thrillers and chilling horror films.

Solstice (2019)

Traumatized Dani, along with her boyfriend and fellow anthropologists, travels to the Swedish outback. On the day of the summer solstice, local residents perform amazing mystical rites. Arriving at the place, young researchers understand that the rituals practiced here are not just a tribute to tradition, but something incredibly terrible and cruel.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
Midsommar

Genre:
Horror, drama, thriller

Actors:
Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren …

Country:
USA, Sweden

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 7.1

Age restrictions:
18+


Apostle (2018)

An interesting folk-horror film about sectarians will take viewers to the beginning of the 20th century. Cultists living on a secluded island suffer from crop failures. Sacrificing animals didn’t fix the problem. Then the adherents of the cult kidnap the daughter of a rich father and demand a ransom. The brother of the hostage , who was considered dead, intends to snatch his sister from the clutches of the insane sect.

Original title:
Apostle

Genre:
Horror, fantasy, thriller, drama, detective

Actors:
Dan Stevens, Lucy Boynton, Michael Sheen …

Country:
UK, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.2, IMDb – 6.3

Age limits :
16+


Tragedy in Waco (mini-series 2018)

The sect “Branch of David” is suspected of serious violations of the law. Representatives of the FBI are trying to get into the ranch where the cult representatives have settled. The confrontation between law enforcement agencies and the Davidians develops into a real siege with shootings and numerous casualties. In the mini-series, the bloody tragedy is shown from the points of view of different sides.

Original title:
Waco

Genre:
Thriller, drama, crime, history

Actors:
Michael Shannon, Taylor Kitsch, Andrea Riseborough …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.6, IMDb – 7.9

Age restrictions:
16+


Paranormal (2017)

An American horror film about a sect tells about two brothers who left the ranks of the adherents of a strange cult. After many years, the fugitives receive a strange video message from fellow believers. The brothers decide to visit old friends and discover that none of the people who lived there have aged for many years, and the supernatural forces that feed the bizarre belief actually exist.

Original title:
The Endless

Genre:
Horror, fantasy

Actors:
Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Callie Hernandez…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.2, IMDb – 6.5

Age restrictions:
16+


Devil Circles (2017)

The family hires a specialist in destructive cults to bring back a relative who has fallen into religion. The young man changed his name, threatens loved ones, abandoned his own daughter. The specialist takes a rather radical approach and brings the man with his family to a remote house. It is difficult to reach the clouded consciousness, and strange people in masks appear nearby, intending to interfere with the procedure.

Original title:
Jackals

Genre:
Horror, thriller

Actors:
Deborah Kara Unger, Ben Sullivan, Chelsea Ricketts…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 4.8, IMDb – 5.0

Age restrictions:
18+


Rocky Coast (2016)

The Spanish film is a thriller about a religious community that committed mass suicide in the Canary Islands. Among the adepts was the younger sister of the protagonist. Having learned about the terrible event, the man goes to the scene to find out about the fate of his relative. A trip to the islands will not only help dispel the fog of uncertainty, but will also radically change the life of the hero.

Original title:
Acantilado

Genre:
Thriller, melodrama

Actors:
Daniel Grao, Juan Acosta, Goya Toledo…

Country:
Spain

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.1, IMDb – 5.2

Age restrictions:
16+


Victim (2016)

A married couple moves to a remote island. On the territory of their site, the heroes discover a mutilated corpse. Mysterious symbols are carved on the body of the victim. The police are investigating without due zeal, and the heroine, an experienced surgeon , decides to find out on her own who is behind the terrible sacrifice. The search for the truth leads to ancient legends and half-mad followers of a bloody cult.

Original title:
Sacrifice

Genre:
Thriller, detective

Actors:
Radha Mitchell, Rupert Graves, Ian McElhinney …

Country:
Ireland, Germany, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.3, IMDb – 5.3

Age restrictions:
16+


Colony Dignidad (2015)

One of the best highly rated sect movies is based on true events . After a military coup in Chile, the secret police detained a German journalist and sent him to a commune where people work around the clock under the supervision of former Nazis armed with machine guns. Beloved journalist decides to help her young man. Disguised as a novice, the heroine enters a settlement surrounded by barbed wire.

Original title:
Colonia

Genre:
Drama, biography, history

Actors:
Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl, Mikael Nykvist …

Country:
Germany, France, Luxembourg, UK

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 7.1

Age restrictions:
18+


Sacrament (2013)

A photojournalist receives an invitation from her sister to visit a religious community where the girl got rid of drug addiction . The only way to get to the place chosen by the commune for life is by helicopter. The hero goes there in the company of other journalists to make a report. A spiritual and benevolent atmosphere reigns in the sect, but the pacifying background turns out to be deceptive – far from civilization, evil goes unpunished.

Original title:
The Sacrament

Genre:
Horror, thriller

Actors:
Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Kentaker Audley …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.8, IMDb – 6.1

Age restrictions:
18+


Master (2012)

A feature film about religious fanatics tells about the wanderings of a former sailor. A World War II veteran suffers from alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder. After a long search for his place in the world, a lonely man joins a fashionable spiritual cult. The master at the head of the teaching easily recruits neophytes. The hero first makes a rapid career with a mentor, and then begins to ask uncomfortable questions about faith.

Original title:
The Master

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 7.2

Age limit:
18+


Martha, Marcy May, Marlene (2011)

Unable to bear the abuse and numerous hardships, Marta escapes from the sect. With the support of her older sister, the heroine of the film is trying to return to normal life. The psyche, traumatized by a long stay in a sectarian community, fails. The girl is seized with paranoia – it seems to the clouded consciousness of the unfortunate that somewhere nearby are the sectarians leading the surveillance.

Original title:
Martha Marcy May Marlene

Genre:
Thriller, drama, detective

Actors:
Elizabeth Olsen, Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbet…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.1, IMDb – 6.9

Age restrictions:
16+


The Sound of My Voice (2011)

A spectacular horror film about sectarians is worth watching for all lovers of science fiction and time travel . A girl who calls herself an alien from the future gathers a group of followers around her and promises her adherents salvation in the coming catastrophe . A pair of truth seekers infiltrate the organization to expose a charlatan, but unexpectedly fall under the influence of the charismatic Maggie.

Original title:
Sound of My Voice

Genre:
Fantasy, thriller, drama, detective

Actors:
Christopher Denham, Nicole Vishus, Brit Marling …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.3, IMDb – 6.6

Age restrictions:
16+


Red State (2011)

Three young men receive a seductive proposal from an adult pretty woman. A pretty lady mixes a sleeping drug into the guys’ beer. The guys come to their senses as a prisoner of a fanatical pastor who intends to execute misguided sinners. Death seems inevitable, but while trying to escape, the guys stumble upon a secret arsenal of a crazy priest. Weapons dramatically increase the chances of survival.

Original title:
Red State

Genre:
Thriller, drama

Actors:
Michael Parks, Michael Angarano, Kerry Bishé…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.4, IMDb – 6.2

Age restrictions:
18+


Two Worlds (2008)

A dramatic Danish film about religious sects has received mixed reviews from viewers. The young girl was raised in a Jehovah’s Witness family and is accustomed to many strict restrictions. The heroine is called by the big world, where, in addition to various joys, love and freedom, there are also enough sorrows and dangers. Sarah will have to make a difficult choice – to remain in the power of strict prohibitions or build her own destiny.

Original title:
To verdener

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Rosalind Münster, Pilu Asbek, Jens Jorn Spottag…

Country:
Denmark

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 7.1


Harvest (2007)

The once zealous Christian has lost her faith and, having turned into a convinced skeptic, is engaged in exposing religious miracles. The work leads the heroine to a small American town – the locals in the events that took place there seem to see the ten executions of Egypt described in the Bible. Fanatics blame one family for disasters and are ready for the most radical measures in the name of salvation.

Original title:
The Reaping

Genre:
Horror, thriller

Actors:
Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Idris Elba…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 5.6

Age restrictions:
16+


God’s fiefdom (2007)

The top films about sects continue with a dynamic story about a woman who has spent her whole life in a religious community. The heroine understands that she does not want strict control and polygamy for her children, and therefore decides to escape. Life outside the commune throws up many problems, and the eldest daughter runs back to the sect altogether. The fanatics intend to marry the girl to her stepfather, which means that the desperate mother will have to confront her former fellow believers.

Original title:
In God’s Country

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Kelly Rowan, Richard Burgey, Martha McIsaac …

Country:
Canada

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 6.3


Wicker Man (2006)

A creepy thriller about sects – a remake of the cult horror movie from the 70s. A former close friend asks a retired police officer to help find their missing daughter, their joint child. The investigation leads the detective to a small island where the occult flourishes. A secret society practices sinister rituals and the girl is assigned the role of a victim during the next ceremony. Trying to save his daughter, the hero realizes that he is at the center of a nightmarish conspiracy.

Original title:
The Wicker Man

Genre:
Horror, thriller, detective

Actors:
Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Keith Beehan …

Country:
USA, Mexico, Canada, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.5, IMDb – 3.7

Age restrictions:
16+


Population 436 (2006)

A census officer discovers a strange demographic anomaly. In a small American town, the number of inhabitants has remained unchanged for many years. Deciding to understand the incomprehensible situation, the hero goes on a business trip, not suspecting that a sinister cult is hiding behind a stable population. Local residents are ready to do anything to ensure that exactly 436 people live in the city.

Original title:
Population 436

Genre:
Horror, thriller, drama, melodrama, detective

Actors:
Jeremy Sisto, Fred Durst, Charlotte Sullivan …

Country:
Canada, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.9, IMDb – 5.7

Age restrictions:
16+


Save and Save (2000)

A nurse is raising the daughter of a missing younger sister. A girl with autism arouses the interest of a group of Satanists. Servants of the devil intend to take possession of a child with supernatural powers . Adherents of the cult of evil are numerous and ruthless, but the woman, with the support of an FBI occult specialist, is ready to protect the baby to the last.

Original title:
Bless the Child

Genre:
Horror, thriller, drama, crime

Actors:
Kim Basinger, Jimmy Smits, Holliston Coleman…

Country:
USA, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.3, IMDb – 5.1

Age restrictions:
18+


Sacred Smoke (1999)

A young tourist while traveling in India fell under the influence of a religious guru and becomes a zealous follower of a strange teaching. The parents of an Australian, worried about the events taking place with their daughter, come up with a way to bring the girl home and hire a specialist for rehabilitation. It turns out to be very difficult to rid the confused consciousness of mystical delusions.

Original title:
Holy Smoke

Genre:
Drama, comedy

Actors:
Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel, Julie Hamilton…

Country:
USA, Australia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.4, IMDb – 5.9

Age restrictions:
18+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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