In Anticipation of Snatch a Bullet, we round up 10 terrifying movies about cults. Written and directed by Nick Cassavetes, Snatch a Bullet is the most recent upcoming film to explore the strange world of cults. The thriller follows a vice detective, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as he embarks on a dangerous mission to avenge his wife and rescue his daughter from the clutches of a mysterious religious group.
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These bizarre groups led by a charismatic leaders with uncanny control over the lives of followers have always been a source of fascination and the subject of numerous films and documentaries. Here’s a selection of some of the most spine-chilling movies about cults you probably shouldn’t watch alone in the dark.
Terrifying Movies About Cults:
- The Invitation
- Rosemary’s Baby
- Martha Marcy May Marlene
- The Wicker Man
- Sound of My Voice
- The Sacrament
- The Babysitter
- The Master
1. The Invitation
Genre: Thriller I Release Year: 2015
What is it about: A man and his girlfriend decide to attend a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife. As if that’s not awkward enough, at the party old traumas come to the surface and new horrors begin to unfold.
Why we like it: This slow-burning thriller takes a relatively simple premise and gradually raises the stakes until there’s no escape. It’s as terrifying as it is compelling in its treatment of grief, suspicion, and paranoia.
Genre: Horror I Release Year: 2019
What is it about: Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christopher (Jack Reynor) have been dating for four years and he’s on the verge of breaking up with her. But a personal tragedy compels him to invite her on a holiday in Sweden where he’s set to attend a folk festival that only takes place once every 90 years.
Why we like it: Ari Aster’s folk horror explores themes of grief and the breakdown of a relationship while showing how sunshine can be as scary as darkness.
3. Rosemary’s Baby
Genre: Horror I Release Year: 1968
What is it about: This classic horror movie centers on a young pregnant woman who suspects her new next-door neighbors are in a Satanic cult. As her pregnancy progresses, she becomes convinced that both she and her baby are in incomprehensible danger.
Why we like it: Rosemary’s Baby is iconic and one of the few horrors of its era that is just as scary today as it was when it first came out.
4. Martha Marcy May Marlene
Genre: Thriller, Drama I Release Year: 2011
What is it about: This highly acclaimed movie follows a young woman in the aftermath of escaping a dangerous cult. Her trauma and fragile mental state make it almost impossible for her to adjust to life back with her family.
Why we like it: The film offers an in-depth character study of the long-term effects suffered by those who were trapped inside violent cults.
5. The Wicker Man
Genre: Horror I Release Year: 1973
What is it about: A police inspector travels to a remote Scottish village to investigate a young girl’s disappearance. Upon his arrival, he’s horrified by the villager’s pagan beliefs and their denial of the girl’s very existence.
Why we like it: This British folk horror film is as suspenseful today as it was 50 years ago and its impact on popular culture is undeniable. Nicholas Cage even starred in a 2006 remake, but it was terrible.
6. Sound of My Voice
Genre: Thriller , Drama I Release Year: 2011
What is it about: This intriguing thriller centers on two documentary filmmakers who infiltrate a secretive cult operated by a woman claiming to be from the future. The more time they spend with the group, the less convinced they are of whether she’s a fraud or not.
Why we like it: Sound of My Voice is a compelling and unsettling exploration of its subject matter.
7. The Sacrament
Genre: Horror, Thriller I Release Year: 2013
What is it about: Inspired by the horrific Jonestown Massacre, this found footage horror follows a fictional team of journalists making a documentary about a seemingly idyllic commune led by a charismatic man who calls himself Father. Of course, once they get there, they start to learn how far from idyllic the community really is.
Why we like it: The Sacrament and the real-life events the film took inspiration from are probably the best examples of how truly terrifying cults can be.
8. The Babysitter
Genre: Horror, Comedy I Release Year: 2017
What is it about: When a young boy stays up way past his bedtime, he accidentally spots his babysitter sacrificing a classmate to the devil. Now the kid must survive the night and defeat the cult of teens trying to silence him for good.
Why we like it: The Babysitter is campy horror at its finest. It features the perfect combination of gore and hilarious moments, making it the most light-hearted title on this list. Well, as lighthearted as a film about teenagers worshipping the devil can be.
Genre: Horror, Thriller I Release Year: 2018
What is it about: Set in 1983, Mandy follows a lumberjack named Red (played by Nicholas Cage) as he embarks on a revenge path following his beloved wife’s brutal murder.
Why we like it: This is one of the best-received Nic Cage movies to come out in the past decade. It’s a violent, bloody, overly-acted mess, but it also features some touching moments, making it surprisingly compelling.
10. The Master
Genre: Drama I Release Year: 2012
What is it about: Joaquin Phoenix stars as a troubled WW2 veteran during the 1950s who becomes enthralled with a family cult led by a charismatic patriarch played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. As the film progresses, the young man must decide how far he’s willing to go for his new “family.”
Why we like it: This is a compelling and perfectly acted feature showing how easy it is for charismatic cult leaders to manipulate and prey on the vulnerable.
Lori C. is an entertainment writer who studied Film and Television at University. She watches and reviews films and series from most genres, but some of her favourites include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, and True Blood.