Cults in Horror Movies: “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) – by Thomas S. Flowers (Part 1)

There is a strange, perverse, serendipitous feeling watching Rosemary’s Baby. This first of Roman Polanski’s American films opens with a New York City urban landscape outstretched and panned across, as if what we see is some malevolent box metal toy, wound up and played on the tune of some woman humming an intently sweet and ambiguous lullaby. But instead of some creepy jack-in-the-box, we get something much different in the end. Much more sinister. And utterly human, regardless of its supernatural parentage.

Cults in Horror Movies: Riley Stearns’ “Faults” (2014)

The dark comedy and crime drama aspects of FAULTS (2014) get a lot of play in reviews. This focus is understandable because the film is excellent in these areas. Yet some reviewers overlook or miss its horror features. In fact, it is a horror movie in subtle disguise. Writer-director Riley Stearns uses psychological and supernatural horror tropes to good effect in the film. Both types of horror come from the beliefs and practices of Faults, a religious cult from which deprogrammer Ansel (Leland Orser) attempts to rescue Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

Family-Based Cults in Horror Movies

In the opening post of this series, Ti West’s The Sacrament served as an example of a movie that depicts a textbook “dangerous cult.” But such sinister sects don’t have to be as large as Father’s (or as diverse) to induce a reaction of horror in audiences. In other recent and effective horror films, the cultic groups have been as small as the nuclear family.