15 September 2020 | tylerwoodrownichols
Squandered potential, bogged down by tedium
As usual, too many people on here are leaving ratings based on a.) how interesting the source material is, or b.) their personal feelings about the cult and people who participated in it. Those feelings are valid, but not really what IMDB is for. Instead, I prefer to focus on the quality of the documentary itself and HOW the story is delivered.
The subject matter of this show could not be more interesting, and I was already quite familiar with many details thanks to some longform articles I've read over the past few years. So I had a decent idea of what to expect. As for the documentary itself, I have to say I'm quite disappointed so far. Yes, the cinematography is beautiful, and it feels very polished. But that doesn't really make up for some of the glaring flaws.
First of all, I found the editing to be confusing at first. We jump between timelines (the years when Mark was in the cult and everyone was "happy" vs the present day when everyone is freaking out) without any kind of text to let us know what year the footage is in. I picked up on these shifts by the end of the first episode, but I still found that a little strange. That's a minor issue though, I could overlook it if that was the only problem.
However, I'm starting to pick up an issues that seem to plague 95% of the 'docuseries' of recent years: it feels like the story is artificially stretched out just to make it fill up a 9 hour series. Episode 1 was boring, but 2 and 3 had much more exciting content. Unfortunately, we've now begun to stagnate. The stories in Episode 4 probably could have been told with just as much detail in 20 minutes flat. Instead, in order to bloat it into an hour, we're left with a lot of repetition and re-stating things we already know from previous episodes, or sometimes even from earlier in the same episode. It's already getting kind of boring hearing women talk about how they were mesmerized by Keith and then lured in by that... there's only so many times we can state the obvious. We know that's how he operates. Let's move on. I really hope the next few episodes don't drag on as badly as Episode 4 did, but I have a feeling that this is a sign of things to come. I don't see how there's 5 hours left of this.