Directed by Ti West
Starring Gene Jones, AJ Bowen, and Joe Swanberg
After learning about it in a criminal justice course, I never expected to see a Jonestown movie in all but name. Especially not from Ti West. Yet here we are.
Roughly, the film is about 3 men working for Vice News, who, after receiving a strange letter from one of their sisters, decides they should look into her new lifestyle. When they arrive at Father’s (played brilliantly by Gene Jones) compound known as Eden Parish, they find a utopia. No drugs, violence or racism, free spirituality for those who seek it. All seems well in this camp, though upon closer investigation, the men see that all is not what it seems…
Strangely, that’s not really the case with this film. Everything about it is surface level and vapid, with the exclusion of one thing, the performance of the borderline ironically named Gene Jones. It’s clear from the get-go that his character is supposed to be Jim Jones, the leader of Jonestown. From the hair to the aviator sunglasses, right down to the specifically southern intonations, Jones has the character down to a T. He oozes a viper like menace throughout, and is both terrifying and fun to watch work.
Besides that, the film doesn’t have a ton going for it. The writing is really basic, providing backstory for only one of the 3 main characters, and its extent is: he’s a soon to be dad, who is also married. That’s it. There’s no history for any of the other characters, therefore eliminating any of my concern for them. By the end, I had literally no concern who lived or died. The pacing ruined even my desire to care about the Jones character.
Scares: 0/10 Until the end, where the tension ups to maybe a 4.
Gore: 4/10. Though it’s all bright orange and entirely unconvincing.
Beware: Cults, brainwashing, mass suicide.