Cults have been a mainstay of cinema for many years. Usually appearing in the horror genre, but also spread out across the filmic spectrum, cults are a narrative choice that filmmakers come back to time and time again.
In this list, the cults take a variety of shapes; from a collective unit that worships something unexplainable to a charismatic leader that has enthralled his or her followers. Some follow God, some follow Satan and some follow something else entirely.
The complexities of individuals that choose this way of life is fascinating and cinema has provided many opportunities to explore and understand them. Whether it be five outsiders from different backgrounds just trying to get ahead with the help of a powerful force, or a whole community solely dedicated to preserving their specific way of life.
Cults take many different shapes and sizes but they always make for interesting, creepy and wholly entertaining stories that make it understandable as to why filmmakers will continue to come back to them.
Whether it be a wholly fictitious and supernatural representation, or perhaps something a little more nuanced and morally grey, cults have a long history in cinema and that is unlikely to go away.
15. The Devils
The most controversial film on this list that was banned in several countries upon its release. The film stars Oliver Reed as Urbain Grandier, a priest in 17th century France who wishes to fiercely protect his city of Loudun but also captivates the female populace with his unshackled sexuality.
After a hunchback nun played by Vanessa Redgrave sees Grandier marry another woman, she begins to convince the Catholic Church that Grandier is in league with the Devil and has possessed her and the other nuns of the city.
What follows is a frenzy of religious hysteria as both the nuns and the church feed into the idea of Grandier as some kind of evil sorcerer. This almost forces Grandier to act in the role of cult leader without his knowledge as the nuns devolve into obscene sex obsessed lunatics.
The graphic depictions of members of the church performing deranged sex acts is what led to the film's controversy. But looking past that, it is an examination of the lengths that religious fanaticism can reach, in addition to some strong visuals and production design.