Cult (2007)

Cult Review (click to see it bigger!)Starring Taryn Manning, Rachel Miner, Glenn Dunk, Joel Michaely

Directed by Joe Knee

Distributed by Maverick Entertainment Group

Grab your sleeping bags, pillows, favorite PJs, and a big bowl of hot buttery popcorn because Cult is the perfect slumber party flick. As I watched the film, it took me back to the days of my teens. I can still recall gathering around the TV with a group of my closest friends and staying up all night watching scary movies. Our tense faces lit only by the glow from the screen, we would jump and try to stifle our girly screams to avoid the real horror of waking the parental units (usually to no avail). I slipped easily back into that sentiment as Cult spun in my player.

In the film a group of college students is involved in researching a 20-year-old case involving the massacre of a local cult for a class project. As they delve deeper into the history of the cult’s origin, the students begin to suffer the same brutal fates as the cult members they are investigating. Mindy (Miner) is the most affected member of the study group. Without fully understanding why, even when her professor asks her to abandon the project, Mindy finds that she is unable to walk away. Soon she and her friends are swept up in a deadly quest to find the truth about what really happened during the massacre.

The further they dig into the legend surrounding the cult, the higher the body count rises and the more Mindy learns about her own past. Visions she has had since her childhood begin to take on more sinister and brutal tones, and each one reveals a bit more than the last. Mindy soon realizes that she must now sacrifice herself, as her own mother did twenty years earlier, in order to stop the man responsible for the massacre from gaining the godly power he seeks.

Like I said … slumber party fodder if there ever was any. I’m pretty sure that my teenagers and most of their friends would enjoy Cult. Being in the same vein as Witchboard and the like, Cult may not appeal to genre fans that are looking for more refined or mature horror, but the teeny-bopper crowd will probably eat it up. It’s not too heavy with just the right amounts of blood, guts, and cheesy effects to keep it interesting.

The story moves along pretty quickly and covers a lot of ground. It sometimes crams excessive amounts of plot into too short of a time slot but recovers fairly well from these potentially disastrous missteps. Other than that and a few effects that almost come across as dated enough to have been “new” when I was huddled with my girlfriends around the glowing ghoulies on TV, Cult is rather enjoyable. Of course it helps when a film is carried by a cast of strong actors with more than decent performances. As much as I thought I was going to hate this movie, I found myself quite entertained. With a bit of polishing Cult could have been more than just another direct-to-video title.

Don’t get me wrong though; I certainly won’t be running out into the street to praise the film, nor will I recommend it to all of my friends. It definitely isn’t going to make my top movie picks list for 2007. But the next time my daughter has a sleepover and I have a living room full of teenage girls in their PJs looking for something to watch, I will probably suggest Cult. Hell, I may just butter the popcorn and join them myself.

3 out of 5

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Jon Condit