This movie was nothing like what I expected. I thought this was a sci-fi movie, but I ain't mad. There was so much going on, so much to digest. The main character, Danny (Michael O'Keefe), is a talented gymnast going to Dayton college. He's so talented that the Olympics is even mentioned regarding him. One day he locks eyes with a girl in a café. It was a weird exchange because she was staring at him so ardently but it was a look more of intrigue than desire. He, of course, interpreted the look and the subsequent advance as an invitation. It was an invitation alright... an invitation to a commune in some remote area. If this was another movie this could've easily had been a scary movie. The commune definitely had a strange vibe, but that's all it was. There were no human sacrifices, no conjuring evil spirits, or even holding people hostage. With a little bit of truth and a lot of hugs they win people over and Danny was no exception. Danny was in but his parents were not and they wanted him back. In steps Charles Pratt (James Woods), he is the Kool-Aid camp kidnapper. You lose 'em and he brings 'em back. His character is so mercurial you love him and loathe him at the same time. His tactics seem unorthodox and at times you question his tactics as well as his motives. Then he'll say or do something to totally redeem himself. I thought his character and his performance was the best of the movie. I think the strength of the movie was in the firm yet subtle nature of the commune. The commune wasn't overtly bad at any point. Without a doubt the commune was a break from social norms. Yes, it was clear that something was amiss but were they ever in danger? Were they ever really misled? You can say yes, they were being misled, but to what degree? Was the cult leader, Kirklander (Peter Fonda), saying anything so outlandish? Personally, I think he was a kook as well as his followers. Personally, my reaction as a parent would've been the same as Danny's parents: kidnap him and have him deprogrammed. The parent dynamic was very good. They were torn. They wanted him back, they wanted him broken of the cult confusion, but they couldn't bear to see him hurt in the process. I think the mother had the best line of the movie. It was the point when she was trying to find out the true reason why her son even visited that wacky place and he said there was someone there that he cared about. When she realized it was a girl he was chasing she had to clear the air when she said, "I've sacrificed most of my life on that holy alter that they call motherhood. Right? Always putting you first. Your needs. Your life..." It was a powerful moment for me as a parent. Here it is this lost, confused, and now insolent boy she raised that's so bold as to tell her to shut up because she mentioned this nameless girl with disdain. I totally understood her anger and outrage. She, as well as his father, raised him giving him love, support and all the best they could afford (which was a lot) and in a single three-day weekend all of their sacrifices for him were rendered meaningless. The entire situation-- the young man, the girl, the cult, the parents, and even the "reclaimer" Charles-- was so profound and layered. If there was anything I didn't like about the movie it would be the ending. I knew that there was a risk of regression as Charles had stated (just like Charles stated that they needed to give their son more to live for). I thought the options were fully reuniting with his parents or slipping back to the commune. I never saw option C which was running off with his sweetheart Rebecca/Amy (Karen Allen). That part of the story was too fairytale-you know, the whole riding off into the sunset. That action wasn't a full break from the movie because it was the act of two confused souls still. If there was any mystery with the commune it was not going to be anything like the unknown from them running off together. They were probably the least qualified people to do anything on their own. Without a doubt, Rebecca was still under the influence of the cult and Danny, fresh from deprogramming and having no financial means, was extremely vulnerable. But I guess that was the point of the ending. Maybe the fairytale ending would've been him reuniting with his parents. Instead we got the more realistic ending: the two running away from everyone probably not knowing who to trust and who to believe. OK... maybe I do like the ending.
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A rootless young man's drawn into an unnamed religious cult by a beautiful girl. Every moment with the group causes him to become increasingly under the control of the cult's leader. After ...
May 28, 2020