Cinema Review: Holy Hell | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, March 30th, 2020  

Holy Hell

Studio: Independent Release
Directed by Will Allen

May 23, 2016 Web Exclusive
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It is not only director Will Allen’s unprecedented access and unique perspective that give his documentary, Holy Hell, it’s value. An extremely personal story about the 22 years he spent as a member of the Buddhafield cult, the power of this film is rooted in the reliability of its narrator.  The film begins with Allen introducing himself and contextualizing his own foray into both filmmaking and intentional living. Though what follows interweaves several voices – other ex-cult members, his siblings, and his mother – it’s Allen’s obvious intelligence, wit, and talent that provide an immediate lure. When, after he’s allowed his family and friends’ stories to come to the forefront, he returns to his own, he’s not overly forthcoming. Instead revealing just enough to make his point and lay bare the damage done by the Buddhafield’s idiosyncratic, narcissistic, and abusive leader, Michel.

Holy Hell isn’t mind-blowing. That a cult leader would lure in vulnerable young people looking for answers and take advantage of their unwavering faith is no big shock. We’ve heard this story before. What sets this film apart is Allen’s ability to deliver with integrity and sensitivity extremely intimate stories of optimism, faith, and painful disillusionment. 

Author rating: 6.5/10

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