Did we like it?
A powerful documentary which dealt with a sensational subject – the abuse of children by members of free love cult The Children of God (aka The Family) – in a coherent, intelligent manner.
What was good about it?
• The story was interspersed with the stark, flickering video suicide note by central character Ricky Rodriguez, and footage of his outdoor funeral where former members of the cult paid warm, tearful tributes. This kept viewers focused on the damage caused by cult leader David Berg and his followers. Rick knocked back bottles of beer and remained at a loss to explain why he’d been subjected to abuse, before showing off a drill, wrapped in plastic as a silencer, and other weapons he planned to use on his mother because she had forced him to have intercourse with her from childhood – and let other cult members abuse him.
• Much of the programme consisted of former Children of God members talking about their harrowing experiences and their love of Rick. That could have been dull, but all the contributors were extraordinarily articulate . Elixcia, Daniel, Don, Sara, Davida, Celeste and Kristina refused to rant; they just explained what had happened and why they thought Ricky was driven to such extreme actions – only faltering when they tried to understand why adults who claimed to love them used them as sexual playthings.
What was bad about it?
• The title may have been nicely alliterative but it was somewhat misleading. Ricky did kill his nanny before shooting himself, but she had sanctioned his abuse amid the institutionalised paedophilia promoted by Berg, so he was really a Cult Victim rather than a Cult Killer.