TV Review: Cult and The Following

The last couple of TV seasons were really hard because I got burnt too many times by getting hooked on a cool new show which would then get canceled only a few episodes in. So this season, I sat back and laughed as more network shows with unique premises were canceled like a swarm of dying insects. The only new show I picked up so far that is also a hit was Arrow. However, two mid-season replacements had trailers a few months back that did happen to catch my eye. Cult on the CW and Fox’s The Following. I must say, I am both hooked and creeped out by these shows, which have similar, yet very different premises. Let’s see if their eerie stories can help them maintain an audience for at least a couple of seasons (if not the rest of this one).

cultFirst up, Cult: starring Robert Knepper of Prison Break fame. Basically, this is a show-within-a-show in which a young man, Jeff Sefton (Matthew Davis), is looking for his missing brother, Nate. Nate was involved with a group of fanatics (or “True Believers” as they are called) who are devoted to a TV Show called “Cult” which stars Billy Grimm (Knepper) as the leader of a crazed cult who gets others to do his dirty work for him in grisly and sadistic fashion. Groups of College kids perform reenactments of the murders on the show. The plot gets more and more twisted and complex as the line between reality and the TV show are blurred. This is one of those shows that you really have to pay attention and may even need to watch more than once to get the whole gist of what is going on. Definitely high on the creepy scale, don’t watch it alone! I recommend it!

Next is FOX’s The Following, starring the always great Kevin Bacon! Bacon stars as Ryan Hardy, a former FBI agent who put away charismatic serial killer, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy who looks like Thomas Jane’s twin brother), years ago. Carroll, however, has developed his own cult following comprised of serial killers and fanatics who continue to do his bidding. Carroll had escaped from jail,

the-following

so Hardy was pulled out of retirement (his last encounter left him with a pacemaker which adds great vulnerability to what should be a tough-as-nails character) to pursue him. Carroll is caught early on, but not before his own son is kidnapped by his followers at his command. The race is on for Hardy to not only find the boy, but also stop this crazed cult who may be comprised of average, ordinary every day people like you or me. This is one of those shows that makes you want to just take a shower and cleanse yourself afterward. Be warned, there are very adult themes and abnormalities portrayed in this show that are definitely NOT for younger viewers, and there are scenes that will make the average male VERY uncomfortable.

 
What makes both shows’ eeriness work is that you never seem to know who is part of the cult and who is not. Just when you think someone is an ally, they turn out to be working for the bad guy. Very reminiscent of “Race with the Devil” or “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. How endemic ARE these cults??? Both series illustrate how people can get sucked into a cult-like mentality very easily, rationalizing bad behavior in a disturbing way. Both shows are deeply disturbing. Both shows deliver chills and thrills as well as strong, complicated stories and good acting. The TV Season just got better. Let’s hope the networks realize what they’ve got…

Don’t forget to visit http://www.thefrightchannel.com!

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