Cults are convincing. The story of a person falling under the spell of a charismatic leader is universally fascinating, although it usually ends with that leader exposed or falling from power as quickly as he rose to possess it.
A recent film, however, focuses on what is left after a cult collapses, exploring the dangers of brainwashing years after her character has escaped a life physically under the leader’s control. Here’s why you should check out Hulu’s creepiest and most shocking cult horror thriller.
Directed by the Austrian team of aunt and nephew Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (good night mom), The cottage was produced by classic horror label Hammer Films and distributed by Neon (behind recent titles like Parasite and Palm springs). A combo like this is intriguing, but The cottage takes its time with its creepy and enigmatic story. Although he eventually reaches monstrous heights, The cottage takes a deliberate and strange path to get there.
The film opens with a family: two children, Aiden (This is Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh, playing Sprite in upcoming Marvel movie Eternals) and their divorced parents, Laura (Alicia Silverstone) and Richard (The Hobbit Richard Armitage). When Richard asks Laura to finalize their divorce so that he can marry his new love, Grace (Riley Keough), Laura commits suicide instead.
Blaming Grace for their mother’s death, Aiden and Mia try to find out more about her. In a creepy shaking camera sequence, they watch a young Grace examine bodies wrapped in purple cloth. When the children reunite with Grace in the family’s mountain lodge, they hatch a plan for revenge but underestimate the power this woman’s mysterious past continues to hold over her.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for The cottage.
The cult that ends up playing a role in The cottage bears a striking resemblance to Heaven’s Gate, a UFO death cult known for mass suicide that took place on March 26, 1997. The bodies of cult members were covered in purple shrouds and referred to their bodies as mere “vehicles” To finally graduate.
Although it initially appears that Grace has left her dark past behind, The cottage testifies to the ease with which those who have fallen prey to a control group such as a cult can fall back into old behaviors. The brainwashing runs deep, and there is always a portion of those affected by it who question their former leaders and wonder, “What if they were right?” ”
Unlike most horror movies, there are no real villains in The cottage: just people going through massive trauma and trying to cope. Co-director Veronika Franz said SlashFilm:
“We wanted to make a horror movie without a villain, without a monster. We wanted to show people that they were both good and bad, guilty and not guilty. And I think it’s the combination of all of that and the lack of communication that creates the tragedy or the horror.
This nuance is skillfully captured by the film’s strong cast, especially Riley Keough, an indie darling (and granddaughter of Elvis Presley), and blockbuster star Jaeden Martell. He franchise. Both communicate their own personal versions of religious mythologies, whether knowingly or not, and engage in them with fervent and traumatic devotion.
You can’t exactly blame Mia and Aiden, who just lost their mother, for going after Grace and trying to convince her of various lies, including the idea that the characters are all in purgatory. One also cannot completely blame Grace, suddenly confronted with her past and no longer taking her medication, for having regressed into a long-buried cult mentality.
Even after a cult is gone, the harm it inflicted on survivors still permeates their lives. Take for example the fate of Ricky rodriguez, born into the cult of the Children of God and led to murder-suicide after leaving the group and relying on the abuse he suffered as a child.
The cottage looks like a long, slow descent into darkness. But that’s exactly what life after leaving a cult can become without careful and active deprogramming. The cottage may seem depressing and unrealistic, but it really is a weird caveat, let alone a great scary watch.
The cottage is now streaming on Hulu in the USA