TheWrap - Sam Fragoso May 26, Holy Hell — despite its unprecedented access — finds itself oscillating back and forth between mediocrity and illumination. Austin Chronicle - Marc Savlov May 25, Slant Magazine - Clayton Dillard May 20, It hopes to jolt audiences with OMGs instead of edifying them about the empty lure of Buddhafield's cult mentality. User Score. Write a Review. User Reviews. Scraper Sep 14, This is a pretty amazing story. Of course it's frightening that ordinary people we're seduced by this cult so deeply for so long. I guess the scariest part is the notion that none of us are immune to being persuaded, if not hypnotized, on the way to fulfill our desires.
The story is narrated This is a pretty amazing story. The story is narrated along the way by surviving cult members who gradually reveal their deep-seated pain and heartbreaking mental scars. The film is thorough and done with care. I just kind of felt it trailed off and there was no real resolution. More From Metacritic. Watch all of this week's new film trailers, including Snowden, X-Men Find a full list of the movie and TV titles headed to disc in July, What to Watch Now on Starz. Get a list of the best movie and TV titles recently added and coming Current Movie Releases.
By Metascore By Userscore. More From Holy Hell. Please enter your birth date to watch this video: January February March April May June July August September October November December 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 Enter You are not allowed to view this material at this time. Not Rated. Rape survivors, for example, felt cleansed, and lost souls found salvation through Michel's tutelage and their newfound family.
In joining Buddhafield, some sought to escape society's authoritative decrees or replace drug habits with spiritual highs. Others were tossed out of their homes or contending with trauma or battling disillusionment with their respective religions. Most maintained low-end jobs to pay rent, but they rarely communicated with people who were not part of the roughly member organization.
Life as they knew it ended. And for more than two decades, they loved it. Allen, Coquet and Cheiffo realized that, once they took the plunge, nothing could be halfhearted. Michel, who is also a well-read ballet dancer trained in hypnotherapy, led activities on six nights of the week. If anyone said they'd rather not attend, a friend would question their devotion, insisting that person was stuck inside their own muddled headspace.
The search for a Speedo-wearing guru
Supposed enlightenment waited beyond every doubt. Sometimes the guidelines were more specific.
Michel would hand down dictums on an individual basis. His biggest hangups were sexual, as the group later discovered in a dark way. He banned most members from fornicating, citing the release of energy that comes with an orgasm as an inferior high. Often seen in nothing but a Speedo and Ray-Bans, Michel was particularly interested in recruiting attractive young men.
Even better if they were virgins. In truth, "everybody was fucking everybody" surreptitiously, one ex-member says in the movie. Buddhafielders told themselves lies about what was going on, and they fed lies to outsiders too.
- More Details;
- Urban Dictionary: Holy Hell.
- Holy Hell: Documenting 20 years inside a California cult, Buddhafield - BBC News;
- More TV Shows & Movies.
When the mob appeared in public together, they fibbed about their affiliations. At a movie theater, they would claim to be a "movie club. The rare times anyone conversed with strangers about their personal lives, Buddhafielders lied about where they resided, fearing potential exposure. Barring fleeting skepticism, no insiders questioned Michel's rules. They'd found tranquility. When we think of cults, we picture murder and nutty religious practices. But in Buddhafield, positivity abounded, and they kept up with current events throughout. Some worked together too. A cultlike faction of Sikhs apparently hired the trio to pose on their behalf because "people in that cult were too spacey to be waiters.
Michel hired him to give non-hypnotic counsel, while Michel oversaw the sessions oriented toward metaphysical growth. Working closely with Michel lent Coquet and Allen unprecedented access to their teacher. For his finest act, Michel performed what he called "the knowing. Cheiffo, a self-described "punk-rocker" who was loyal for 27 years and received "the knowing" seven months after arriving, said some waited 18 years hoping they'd be selected.
The documentary's subjects liken "the knowing" to an LSD trip: colors swirl, trees sway and divinity presents itself. Today, Allen, Coquet and Cheiffo recognize the manipulativeness of the practice. Michel would employ an ancient Hindu technique, pressing his fingers to the recipients' eyes in such a way that intense beams of light would form. Using the spiritual teachings they'd been fed, members fixed deep meanings to the experience, often calling it, at most, "God" or, at least, "intoxication. Leave now. There were other times when it was just amazing. I would put my hands on my eyes and have there be a light show.
The warning signs were always there, but the tribe's bond both strengthened and splintered after the FBI raided a Texas cult led by David Koresh in The standoff ended in flames, killing 76 affiliates of the Branch Davidians sect. Michel panicked. He changed his name to Andreas, effectively creating a new character for himself. Fearing a similar fate, he relocated Buddhafield to Austin. Mutual support within the institution fortified, yet somewhere in that process, a shift occurred.
He was convinced he was a Christlike figure, and history tells us that most Christlike figures are executed. Members had to derive positivity among themselves. Many were at Andreas' every beck and call. They got little sleep, yet they were expected to remain alert at all times.
Holy Hell ( film) - Wikipedia
Allen, who lived with The Teacher for 18 of his 22 years in Buddhafield, was tantamount to a personal servant, reading to Andreas and tucking him in nightly, among other tasks. As if being worshiped weren't enough some members called him "my lord" , Andreas' "Howard Hughes neurosis" -- Allen's words -- was satisfied at all hours. Because his role as therapist provided unique access to the mysterious leader, Coquet learned things few did.
According to Coquet, Andreas claimed a "persecution complex" as a result of being molested as a young boy. Members later learned that, despite his sex regulations, Andreas was manipulating male Buddhafielders into sleeping with him. They were effectively being raped, but it carried the guise of consent. No one talked about it. Through it all, no one outright confronted Andreas -- at least not to Allen, Coquet and Cheiffo's knowledge. When someone was tempted to raise concerns, another member would encourage them to return to their spiritual center.
Those who actually left were forced to "disconnect" from the group, just like in Scientology. Buddhafielders were sometimes ordered to maintain ostensible friendships with these people to keep tabs on them, should anyone choose to contact the authorities.
But in , a nostalgic apostate returned to Buddhafield after a decade. He wasn't a teacher anymore -- he was a master, and a fussy one at that. Then the returnee heard from his friends that Andreas was a sexual predator. This "character," as Allen described him, barged into his wife's cleansing session -- a strict no-no -- and accused Andreas of hurting his disciples.
Andreas denied it and later blamed Cheiffo for not being there to "protect" him. But the damage was done: Before leaving again, the former member wrote an email to the group outlining all of the abuse allegations.
My childhood in a cult is hard to imagine - but my survival is truly unbelievable | Jenna Tracy
More victims came forward. A steady implosion set in. A few Buddhafielders had already planted seeds toward exiting. Allen, for example, who'd been a kept man, got a job in so he could save money in case he decided to leave.