For Religious Cult Movies, there is no limit to the creators exploring this topic. Here are 25 of our favorites.
From David Fincher, starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf, Zach Grenier
Fight Club is a 1999 American film directed by David Fincher. The film follows an unnamed protagonist, a depressed insomniac played by Edward Norton, who forms a "fight club" with soap maker Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt. As their relationship intensifies, the fight club grows into an underground organization that trains its members to commit acts of terrorism against society, in order to catalyze a revolution. Along the way, the protagonist discovers that Tyler Durden is actually his alternate personality, created as a coping mechanism for his emotional distress. In the end, the protagonist sacrifices himself to save others, leaving Tyler to continue his mission.
From Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds, Martin Stringer
There Will Be Blood is a period drama film set in the early 20th century, directed and written by Paul Thomas Anderson. It tells the story of Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), a self-made oil man driven by an intense need for wealth and power. His business dealings and personal relationships quickly become intertwined as he embarks on a ruthless quest to become a powerful oil magnate. Along the way, he clashes with a local preacher, Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), who is determined to fight Plainview's corrupting influence. The film follows Plainview's journey to achieve his goal, regardless of the consequences. Along the way, he faces moral questions about his actions and strength of his own convictions. Ultimately, his actions lead to a violent and fateful confrontation with Eli.
From Stanley Kramer, starring Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly, Dick York
Inherit the Wind is a 1960 film directed by Stanley Kramer based on the 1955 play of the same name. The film tells the story of a trial over the teaching of evolution in a small town in Tennessee. After a young teacher is arrested for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution, two of the greatest lawyers of the time are brought in to defend him. Atticus Finch-like Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy) and Clarence Darrow-like Matthew Harrison Brady (Fredric March) go head to head in a heated and highly publicized trial. With the help of witness E.K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly), Drummond is able to prove that the man’s right to freedom is more important than religious beliefs. The film ultimately shows how far a town was willing to go to suppress truth and freedom, while also showing the power of the individual to stand up and fight for what they believe in.
From Charles Laughton, starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason
Rated Not Rated
The Night of the Hunter is a 1955 American thriller film directed by Charles Laughton. It stars Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, and Lillian Gish. The plot follows a notorious con man, Harry Powell, who marries a recently widowed woman in order to gain access to the hidden money of her late husband. Along the way, he encounters two children who know where the money is hidden, and will stop at nothing to get it. The film is a chilling tale of murder and corruption, ultimately culminating in a thrilling climax as Powell attempts to track down the two children and their valuable secret.
From Alex Gibney, starring Paul Haggis, Jason Beghe, Spanky Taylor, David Miscavige
Rated Not Rated
Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief is an investigation into the Church of Scientology, based on the book of the same name by Lawrence Wright. The film examines the Church’s origin and its teachings, particularly focusing on the inner workings of its most secretive levels. It also looks at the Church’s alleged abuses, its tax-exempt status, and its relationships with celebrities. Through interviews with former high-ranking members, the film provides insight into the Church’s extensive control over its members, as well as its media campaigns to silence its critics. The film paints a damning portrait of an organization that has become a powerful force in American culture.
From Roman Polanski, starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer
Rosemary's Baby is a 1968 psychological horror film directed by Roman Polanski. The film follows Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, a newlywed couple who moves into a New York City apartment building with a sinister history. Rosemary soon begins to believe that her neighbors are part of a Satanic cult, and that she may have been chosen as the mother of the Devil's child. The film follows Rosemary as she navigates a world of paranoia and fear as she discovers the horrific truth of her situation. It is widely considered a classic of horror cinema and a seminal work in Polanski's career.
From Alan Parker, starring Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif
Mississippi Burning is a 1988 crime drama directed by Alan Parker. Set in 1964, the film focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of three civil rights workers in Mississippi. Two FBI agents, Rupert Anderson (Gene Hackman) and Alan Ward (Willem Dafoe) are sent to investigate the case, which is met with hostility by the local population. With the help of a local preacher (Frances McDormand), the agents uncover a conspiracy of white supremacists involved in the disappearance. The film follows Anderson and Ward as they attempt to uncover the truth, while also attempting to protect the local black population from racial violence. The film was critically acclaimed and nominated for seven Academy Awards.
From Wolfgang Becker, starring Daniel Brühl, Katrin Sass, Chulpan Khamatova, Florian Lukas
Good Bye Lenin! tells the story of a young man, Alex Kerner, living in East Berlin just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. When his mother, a committed socialist, suffers a heart attack, she falls into a coma and is unaware that the Berlin Wall has come down. To protect her from the shock of learning of the changes that have taken place in East Germany, Alex goes to great lengths to recreate the bygone East German state for her. As Alex and his friends struggle to maintain the illusion of the East German state for his mother, the film follows their emotional journey and the changes that come with reunification.
From Peter Mullan, starring Eileen Walsh, Dorothy Duffy, Nora-Jane Noone, Anne-Marie Duff
The Magdalene Sisters is a 2002 drama film directed by Peter Mullan. It tells the story of three teenage girls in Ireland in 1964 who are sent to a Magdalene asylum run by a tyrannical nun, Sister Bridget. The girls, Margaret, Bernadette, and Rose, suffer physical, mental, and sexual abuse at the hands of the nuns, who are determined to punish them for their perceived sins. Despite their attempts to escape, the girls are unable to free themselves from the oppressive institution, but eventually find a way to survive their ordeal and reclaim their freedom. The film paints a vivid portrait of a cruel system and the strength of sisterhood in the face of injustice.
From Larry Charles, starring Bill Maher, Tal Bachman, Jonathan Boulden, Steven Burg
Religulous is a 2008 American comedy and documentary film written by and starring comedian Bill Maher. Directed by Larry Charles, the film follows Maher as he travels around the world to discuss religion and its impact on people's lives. Maher interviews believers from a variety of faiths, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as well as other religions such as Scientology and Mormonism. Maher also visits religious sites such as the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the Vatican in Rome, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Throughout the film, Maher attempts to challenge popular beliefs and notions about religion, often in a humorous way. In addition, Maher interviews experts in the fields of history, archaeology, and theology in an effort to gain deeper insight into the beliefs and practices of various religious groups. Ultimately, the film paints a humorous yet critical picture of religion and its effect on society.
From Vikram Gandhi, starring Vikram Gandhi, Toby, Greg, Molly
Rated Not Rated
Kumaré is a 2012 documentary film directed by Vikram Gandhi. In the film, Gandhi, an Indian-American, takes on the guise of a guru named Kumaré and creates a fictional character in order to study the effects of blind faith on people. Throughout the film, Kumaré tours the United States and gathers followers, many of whom believe that he is a real spiritual leader with miraculous powers. As his following grows, so too does Kumaré's confusion about his role, as he struggles with the ethical implications of deceiving people and begins to feel genuine affection for his followers. In the end, Kumaré must choose between the truth and his desire to help the people he has grown to care about. The film is a thought-provoking exploration of the power of belief and the nature of faith.
From Stanley Kubrick, starring Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Todd Field, Sydney Pollack
Eyes Wide Shut is a psychological drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The film follows the story of a married couple, Dr. William Harford and Alice Harford, who explore the boundaries of their relationship when Alice confesses that she has considered having an affair. This causes a rift between the couple, and Dr. Harford sets out on a night-long journey of sexual and moral discovery. Throughout his travels, he encounters different characters, each of whom opens his eyes to different aspects and consequences of infidelity. In the end, Dr. Harford discovers that the truth can be both revelatory and dangerous.
From Steven Spielberg, starring Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan, Amrish Puri
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is the second installment in the Indiana Jones franchise. Set in 1935, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and his sidekick Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) team up with a nightclub singer named Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) to retrieve a precious stone and several kidnapped children in India. Their mission takes them to an ancient temple located deep in the jungle filled with booby traps and secret passages. Along the way, they must outwit the evil Thuggee cult and its leader Mola Ram (Amrish Puri) in order to save the children and restore balance to the ancient Hindu culture.
From Roger Ross Williams, starring
From Bill Paxton, starring Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matt O'Leary
From Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Jesse Plemons
From Ari Aster, starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper
From Martin Koolhoven, starring Guy Pearce, Dakota Fanning, Emilia Jones, Carice van Houten
From Will Allen, starring Will Allen, Dimitrius Pulido, Phillipe Coquet, David Christopher
Rated Not Rated
From Florian Gallenberger, starring Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl, Michael Nyqvist, Richenda Carey
From Joel Edgerton, starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Joel Edgerton, Russell Crowe
From Nicholas Hytner, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder, Paul Scofield, Joan Allen
From Sean Durkin, starring Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Christopher Abbott
From Eva Orner, starring Larissa Anderson, Francesca Asumah, Sarah Baughn, Bikram Choudhury
From Marc Forster, starring Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, Kathy Baker