Monday, May 2, 2016

Holy Hell
Release Date: January 25, 2016 (Sundance Film Festival); release theatrically May 27th 2016 (Limited)
1 hour 40 minutes
Rated: Not Rated


Director: William Francesco Allen (as Will Allen)

Amy Allen as Herself
Cristala Allen as Herself
Gina Allen as Herself
William Francesco Allen as Himself
Jennifer Baca as Herself
Alessandra Burenin as Herself
Vera Cheiffo as Herself
David Christopher as Himself
Phillipe Coquet as Himself
Radhia Gleis as Herself
Julian Goldstein as Himself
Greg Gorey as Himself
Murti Hower as Himself
Chris Johnston as Himself
Danielle Lefemine as Herself
Dimitrius Pulido as Himself

Review by Dante Hicks

Plot Summary
  An inside look at a West Hollywood cult formed by a charismatic teacher in the 1980s that eventually imploded.

  Holy Hell is a documentary about a West Hollywood religious group called "The Buddhafield" that was run by a charismatic man named Michel.  Established in the 1980s,  Michel created a community that was strong in developing bonds among its members and accepting of each other regardless of their circumstance.  However, as we learn in the film that there is more to Michel then meets the eye.

Over the years as "The Buddhafield" expanded, the director of "Holy Hell" Will Allen who was a member, would film films to show the teachings of Michel to others. It was his way of contributing to the group. His film gave us insight to a man that was more a less a mysterday.  One example the filmmaker gave was when one member asked Michel how he could please him, Michel requested "Make me a fruit salad every morning." The member, would in turn make these elaborate fruit salads with literally fruit cut up to look like sculptures and words just so he could please Michel. Michel being kind of a jerk would then have another member take those amazingly crafted fruit salads and make a fruit smoothie with them in a blender. That was the kind of person Michel was. 

  At first he seemed extraordinary to the members of "The Buddhafield", then the other shoe dropped. He would take male members with him for one on one "training" and say things like "If you can't be naked in front of your master, than who can you be naked in front of?" From there what we are shown is who Michel really was. He had a secret that no one knew, He was a former gay male pornstar, his real name was Andreas not Michel. And he was a sexual predator. He took advantage of his position as the leader of "The Buddhafield" to sodomize most of the male members for 22 years. 

  From that revelation the film shows what the group did to "Michel" following that information, in one on one interviews with the members. Will in a courageous act, went so far as to find his abuser and confront him on camera. We as the audience see the monster that Michel/Andreas truly is. 

  There is more to the story than what I've written but I honestly don't want to give everything away. You need to go see this so hopefully if you come across a sociopath like Andreas/"Michel" you know the signs so you don't get used or abused by them. Also if you suffered from sexual abuse in your past you might have a hard time watching this film. It was a great documentary but the subject matter is truly horrible. I suggest going to see this, If you can find it, watch it. It shows how paradise can be created and destroyed by the same person. I enjoyed the story but I truly felt Andreas/Michel should have been put in a prison for the rest of his life due to his horrible and villainous actions. 

Stars: 4 stars out of 5 stars

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