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The Cultists

By Bradley Gibson | October 20, 2021

The comedy series, The Cultists, answers the question: what if the Trailer Park Boys were into the occult? In season one, small-town teenager Mike (Peter Swanson) is a faithful devotee of Yog-Sothoth, an elder god and father to his other Lovecraftian favorite, Cthulhu. Unfortunately, his stunned family members neither understand nor approve of his religious and nihilistic obsession.

This is particularly true of his mother (Rebecca Yeager), who desperately wants what’s best for him. She is disturbed that her son has turned out weird as hell. For her benefit, she wants him to be normal. From Mike’s point of view, his mother oppresses him by not allowing him to use his annoying little sister as a human sacrifice. So, Mike decides he must make his own tribe. He collects local cult believers and forms a loose federation based on his worship of Yog-Sothoth, with others focused on Dagon, the fish god. The members include some local witches and assorted outcasts.

The story’s conceit is that parents just don’t understand, no matter what you’re into. By taking the trope of teen rebellion and wrapping it into a cult setting, The Cultists adds a new twist to an old story. Mike is regular-teen emo, but his exposure and knowledge of the Lovecraft mythos have led him to don robes and dig deep into the mystique of worship of elder gods. But the eldritch horror universe at this level of detail is off the beaten path and begs the question of how Mike knows so much?

…forms a loose federation based on his worship of Yog-Sothoth, with others focused on Dagon…”

There are a couple of meta-layer possibilities for someone like Mike to know about Cthulhu and the other Lovecraftian dark beings. One is that he’s a roleplaying gamer. All Dungeons & Dragons players worth their salt know of such mythos. Another answer is that Mike exists in a world where Cthulhu is real, living inside the Lovecraft universe. Despite the fact that the show is created and stars a local gaming group, the latter possibility is more interesting. Perhaps they will successfully summon Cthulhu at some point, and then what might happen? Will they take him to the mall, a la Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure? Will there be echoes of the battle with the Mind Flayer from Stranger Things?

The Cultists is filmed in a pseudo-documentary style, sometimes featuring interviews with characters and, at other points, showing the action directly. It’s meant to look rough around the edges, done partly as a self-shot video blog of the occult adventures of Mike and his friends. Juxtaposing teen angst with the occult brings some fun, dry humor, and watching the group grapple with questions of the supernatural along with their emerging adult identities is entertaining. For example, one guy discovers that he does not mind that the witches’ ceremonies include dominatrix bondage and whippings. 

The Cultists was created by Heath Robinson, with episodes directed by Brianna Da Silva. Season one was released on Youtube, and the team has completed season two now and made it available on streaming between Youtube and Vimeo. One of the side delights of the show is we finally hear a proper pronunciation of “Yog-Sothoth.” Perhaps future episodes could feature Lovecraftian beasties “R’lyeh” and “Nyarlathotep,” and we’ll get those pronunciations as well. However, don’t hold your breath on “He Who Must Not Be Named” for obvious reasons.

The Cultists (2021)

Directed: Brianna Da Silva

Written: Heath Robinson

Starring: Ava Connolly, Mallory Ivy, Glenn Payne, Peter Swanson, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

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"…what if the Trailer Park Boys were into the occult?"

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