Cults freak me out. Charles Manson’s followers and their brutal Sharon Tate murders. The mass suicide during the passing of Hale-Bopp comet by Heaven’s Gate. Even The Church of Scientology as it’s explored by Leah Remini on television. There’s something so daunting and so creepy about an establishment that can warp and take over the minds of everyday people and make them do horrible things. This concept is explored in Patrick O’Bell’s The Blessed Ones, which is currently available on VOD and DVD via Wild Eye Releasing. The film follows two cult members – Spencer and Ursa – as their group prepares for a prophesied apocalypse. A charismatic leader binds his followers to a suicide-pact before the event, and promises them salvation as their souls depart this world. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with the two particular cult members, and they make the move to flee into the desert and leave the ceremony, its leader, and that lifestyle behind. However, the cult’s enforcer isn’t too keen on them leaving, and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep them quiet and accountable. Real life scenarios meet psychological horror narrative in this new movie from Lost Order Films.
The Blessed Ones is creepy, haunting and unsettling due to its correct mirroring of real life. Crazy shit like this is happening right now, all over the world, and innocent people are losing their families or their lives. True horror is always the most terrifying, folks, and The Blessed Ones absolutely hits that nail on the head. It starts with an onslaught of frightening elements, including actual footage of previous cult news and scores that sound like they were ripped from the Insidious movies – before jumping into the story. I will say that The Blessed Ones does have its fair share of slow moments, but I understand that a movie like this can’t be balls to the walls insane from start to finish. Cult leaders are calculated, they need time to adapt and change to better keep their followers in line. They can’t roll out their master plan all at once for fear of scaring everyone off. A certain level of brainwashing needs to be accomplished first. A few times during my viewing, this movie read like it was part documentary and part reenactment, and that gave it an extra layer of realism. It’s that quality, how realistic it is, that makes this particular title stand out from other items in its catalog.
The Blessed Ones was almost completely a one man show, so Patrick O’Bell deserves a ton of credit for crafting such a coherent, self-aware piece of cinema. Patrick wrote, produced, directed and edited The Blessed Ones along with cinematographer Simon Hayes, producers Andy Gates & Maureen Whelan, and executive producers Pamela Corbally & Michael Wallace. I’d like to mention that I absolutely loved the cinematography, set design and camera work here. The vibrant colors of the desert were toned down into a hazy, bland canvas, accurately conveying the feeling of disorientation and confusion. It adds true and much needed grit to the movie. And keeping the central location as a desert compound was spot on when you consider cults like this usually have nice, scenic establishments to cover up the crazy behind-the-scenes. The best way to summarize my feelings on this is – The Blessed Ones is a bad acid trip in the best of way possible. And that’s before the touch of science fiction comes in.
Andy Gates (“Blood Relatives”), Tamzin Brown (Tabloid Vivant), Jonathan Erickson Eisley (Zombies vs Strippers), Dave Vescio (Wolf Mother), Alex Essoe, Michael O’Hare Wallace and Ashley Schmitt star. Director Patrick O’Bell and Reyna Young (“Miss Misery’s Movie Massacre”) also have small roles. All of the cast members did a wonderful job, but I was specifically drawn to Tamzin Brown the most. I remember her from Tabloid Vivant and she’s just so enthralling as an actress. The Blessed Ones was better than I expected and another surprise hit for Wild Eye Releasing. Well shot, well acted, and with a choking sense of realism, this one is not to be ignored. Again, a few slow moments and moments that were maybe held back more than necessary, but overall a solid production. Honestly, it’s creepy to the core when you relate it to past and current events. Plus, I get a kick out of its one-sheet that looks like a lady having the worst sneeze in human history. Find The Blessed Ones on most outlets courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing. Final Score: 7.5 out of 10.