9 Cult Documentaries You Can Stream Now

By: Yara Simón  | 
We'll be honest: Binge-watching the tragic and disturbing story of a sociological phenomenon is one of our favorite ways to spend a Thursday night. filadendron / Getty Images

A good documentary is a window into the human condition; following real-life communities and events and featuring interviews and archival footage, they give viewers an in-depth look into worlds and people they may never get to know.

While some documentaries are motivational and can inspire action, others can leave you feeling devastated. Cult documentaries, for example, often fall into the latter category as former members share their harrowing experiences. But despite the dark material, documentaries about cults in America and elsewhere can also show the resilience of humans.


Whether you want to learn how cults form or why people join them in the first place, there are plenty of documentaries you can watch to gain a better understanding of cults. Here are nine documentaries — both film and docuseries — on cults.

1. 'Desperately Seeking Soulmate: Escaping Twin Flames Universe'

  • Release date: October 6, 2023
  • Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video

This documentary dives into the Twin Flames Universe, an online cult that Jeff and Shaleila Divine founded with the promise of matching people to their soul mates. Some former members say joining the TFU led to being stalked by their supposed twin flame; others accuse the founders of coercing them to change genders.

You can stream this three-part docuseries on Amazon Prime Video, but if you want to learn more about Twin Flames, you can also check out Netflix's "Escaping Twin Flames."


2. 'Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults'

  • Release date: January 1, 2020
  • Where to stream: Apple TV

Marshall Herff Applewhite Jr. founded the Heaven's Gate cult, classified as a UFO religion. Members believed they would leave their bodies behind and their consciousness would transfer into an immortal extraterrestrial being.

In 1997, 39 members died by mass suicide. The Heaven's Gate documentary looks at the cult's beginnings and how it shifted over the years since it started in 1975.


3. 'Holy Hell'

  • Release date: January 25, 2016 (Sundance Film Festival); May 27, 2016 (theatrical release)
  • Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video

For two decades, Will Allen documented Buddhafield, a West Hollywood cult that a teacher founded in the 1980s. After living within the community, Allen showed how his point of view changed as he learned more about the cult.


4. 'Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God'

  • Release date: November 13, 2023
  • Where to stream: Max

Known as Mother God, Amy Carlson was the leader of Love Has Won, a "new religious movement" (NRM). She gained a following through live streams and online manifestos. This three-part series features interviews with members of Love Has Won.


5. 'Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple'

  • Release date: October 20, 2006 (Sundance Film Festival); April 9, 2007 (PBS)
  • Where to stream: Kanopy

This documentary tells the story of Jim Jones, the founder of Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ. Jones drew 900 followers with a promise of an economically and racially just world. The cult ended up in Guayana, and in November 1978, they died by mass suicide. Only five survived.

This documentary includes interviews with Jones' son, family members of former cult members and two survivors.


6. 'Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets'

  • Release date: June 1, 2023
  • Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video

This four-part series sheds light on the Duggar family, who rose to fame through the TLC series "19 Kids and Counting," and the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a Christian fundamentalist organization.

The docuseries features only one of the 19 Duggar children: Jill Duggar Dillard. It also includes interviews with Deanna Duggar, Jim Bob Duggar's sister.


7. 'Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence'

  • Release date: February 9, 2023
  • Where to stream: Hulu

At Sarah Lawrence College, a group of students encountered Larry Ray, the father of one of their classmates. At first, the students didn't mind him around, but eventually, he forced them to do labor, sex acts and more.

Ray was eventually found guilty on 15 federal counts, including sex trafficking and extortion; the documentary follows the survivors in the aftermath.


“You don’t often get to see someone heal from this kind of abuse [onscreen],” Director Zachary Heinzerling told Vulture. “It showed a level of strength and courage in someone to rid themselves of that shame and embarrassment that they might have felt in the aftermath of this and begin a process of healing.”


8. 'Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult'

  • Release date: October 17, 2020
  • Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video

India Oxenberg was a member of NXIVM, a cult that originated as a motivational, self-help organization. This docuseries is a glimpse into how Oxenberg suffered abuse at the hands of leader Keith Raniere.


9. 'Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey'

  • Release date: June 8, 2022
  • Where to stream: Netflix

This four-part docuseries features Warren S. Jeff's rise within the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints. Director Rachel Dretzin aimed to tell the story of the survivors.

"Our focus [is] not only on the experience of being in that cult," Dretzin said. "It's on the people, particularly the women who managed to defy it and escape it, which — if you know anything about the FLDS — is a pretty miraculous and incredible thing to do."