If you’re interested in why people are perennially willing to devote themselves to makeshift prophets and gurus, Hollywood’s latest love affair with cults should be right up your street.

There’s even a new TV series about David Koresh and the Waco debacle that hasn’t reached our shores yet.

Here are some theme-appropriate options.

Television: Wild Wild Country

This Netflix documentary proves that truth is often stranger than fiction. In this instance a controversial sex cult just casually decides to move from India to a sizeable parcel of land in the Oregon desert.

Unsurprisingly, the local, God-fearing population in the next town are none too pleased. The cult does not like them much either, and both sides decide to stockpile weapons in response.

You won’t guess what happens next but we will say this: when your focus is on fighting with the neighbours, there’s always a chance that you might fail to notice the power-hungry types at home who’re plotting your downfall.

Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles
Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles

Podcast: Heaven’s Gate

In 1997, 39 people, all dressed in black, sporting the same bob haircut and Nike trainers, took their own lives in an apparent mass suicide. This strange occurrence was the culmination of a decades-long journey started by single mom, Bonnie Nettles (or "Ti" as she would be known) and drifter, Marshall "Do" Applewhite.

They developed a belief system that was essentially a mash-up between the Book of Revelation and Star Trek.

Eventually this would evolve into a US-wide network of young people living in the woods waiting for aliens to take them to a better place, only to end 20 years later in suicide.

What really gives this podcast on the subject the edge? The fact that its host, Glynn Washington, grew up in a cult. He gives this crazy story a whole new level of depth and intriguing insight.

Video game: Far Cry 5

The newest iteration of this firm gaming favourite came out only last month, and it’s already an instant classic for the "cult-urally" inclined.

You play a deputy who goes up against the Seed family that heads the cult-like Eden’s Gate. It’s your job to stop this sadistic clan, which specialises in seeking the "truth" through torture, stockpiling weapons, hallucinogenic drug creation and giant wolves.

Publisher Ubisoft did a great job with "Father" Joseph Seed; the wonderfully creepy and charismatic leader. Of course, it also helps that this game is ridiculously fun to play.

Joan Didion
Joan Didion

Book: The White Album, Joan Didion

There was lots of fanfare about Emma Cline’s novel The Girls when it was published in 2016. It was praised as the ultimate cult bestseller thanks to Cline’s imagined interpretation of what it would be like to be one of the girls in a Charles Manson-like sect.

But why not read about the real deal — an actual Manson groupie, Linda Kasabian — instead? Didion writes about her interviews with Kasabian in her inimitable, introspective way, but the book of essays, published in 1979, also drips with tales and observations about California during the era of Helter Skelter and the darkness that surrounded the Sharon Tate murders.

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