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Holy Hell

HD   Unrated Closed Captioning

Will Allen

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About the Movie

In 1985, recent film school graduate Will Allen became a member of The Buddhafield, a Los Angeles area spiritual group. Also acting as the group's official videographer, he began to document their activities, which centered on the mysterious leader they called Michel, or The Teacher. Over time, the group's dark side began to surface as total devotion turned to paranoia, until finally, unexpected truths about their enlightened leader were revealed -- all in front of Allen's camera. This incredible, 22-year archive of video footage became the basis for HOLY HELL. Now, for the first time since he left the group, Allen turns the camera on himself and asks fellow ex-cult members to come to terms with their past and the unbelievable deceit they experienced.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews

TOMATOMETER

71%
  • Reviews Counted: 31
  • Fresh: 22
  • Rotten: 9
  • Average Rating: 6.1/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Mr. Allen has made an engrossing and tense documentary, though his insider knowledge is sometimes a hindrance. – Ken Jaworowski, New York Times, May 26, 2016

Fresh: Like watching a takedown of Hitler by a disillusioned Leni Reifenstahl, what emerges is one of the decade's strangest and most unsettling documentaries, especially given its as-yet-unwritten ending. – Peter Debruge, Variety, May 27, 2016

Fresh: It's ham-fistedly structured to withhold information for maximum dramatic impact. But that impact, as predictable as it is, hits hard. – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, May 26, 2016

Rotten: "Holy Hell" should have dug a lot deeper and told its story with a lot more finesse. What happened? Maybe, after all these years, Allen was still too close to his subject? – Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com, May 28, 2016

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Heart Wrenching

I'm a documentary buff and in my opinion this film was powerfully well done. I'm greatly impressed with the overall concept of the film which was originally shot by one of the members of the cult, never suspecting he'd ever use this footage for anything other than the cult itself. Then through the unpredictable abuse that ensued many years down the road from the cult leader, the film ultimately became the abusers demise. As for the director, I can't imagine having that much objectivity to create such a powerful story when the director himself was personally a part of that horrific story. Wow- it could have easily become a film of blame- rather this film shows a beautiful and intricate story of facts woven together to describe a hellish betrayal that changed the lives of hundreds of people. The truth hardly ever gets spoken from the losers in the world...it's the winners that end up in the history books. It's nice to finally see a film where the victims had strong, grounded, honest, and authentic expressions of their experiences without staying in victimhood. And to then realize at the end of the film that the cult is actually still presently active?! Let's get this guy off the streets! Well done Holy Hell, 5 stars and more.

Outstanding!

I'm still numb from watching this outstanding documentary. I tend to prefer documentaries over "movies," much like I prefer to read non-fiction over fiction. This is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen, right up there with "Food, Inc." "Under the Gun," and many others of their caliber. For me, the sign of a good doc or film is when it continues to provoke thoughts and questions long after I watched it. It's been several days since I watched "Holy Hell" and I cannot get it out of my head. I would love to be friends with everyone (well, almost everyone...with one big exclusion...lol), in the documentary. They are all so genuine. And, like most of us, I believe, simply searching for answers to questions big and small. Get comfortable, gather good friends and family around, and watch this mesmerizing documentary.

Saw in NYC then bought here

I saw Holy Hell in the East Village theatre and was BLOWN AWAY, so much so that I pre-ordered it here on iTunes before it was released. This is everything a documentary should be: excellent editing/sound/directing/interviews - all things related to fine filmmaking, and then also an excellent portrayal of the complicated and difficult content. I was mesmorized (in a good way, not a cultish way, lol) from beginnign to end and didn't want it to be over. My only complaint is now I'm waiting for Holy Hell 2! I can't wait to see what this filmmaker and his crew do next, I'll be first in line to support whatever film they undertake next!

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