Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult (4 stars)

Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult.

A terrifying portrait of a nefarious organisation

When you read the true-life cast list of this cult story, you might think it's too bizarre to be true. The main subject is India Oxenberg (daughter of Catherine who played Lady Di in a 1982 TV movie before appearing in Dynasty), a young woman who was inculcated in the Executive Success Program which was essentially a front for NXIVM. This secret society enslaved and branded young women who for many years had been brainwashed and encouraged to cut off ties with their family.

So successful was the group's leader Keith Raniere in making NXIVM appear to be a perfectly innocent, summer camp-like self-improvement operation that the Dalai Lama attended one of their conferences. Also involved in this hellish set-up is Allison Mack (Chloe Sullivan from Superman origins drama Smallville), a NXIVM slave turned racketeer who was alleged to be the originator of the group's branding practices. Raniere was convicted on many charges in 2019 and is set to be sentenced at the end of this month.

The interviews with the Oxenbergs reveal a trail of bad choices which ultimately led to India's incarceration and torture, and a lifelong guilt complex for Catherine who allowed her daughter to be led astray. Among the filmmakers is Cecilia Peck (her dad was legendary Hollywood actor Gregory), who was also recruited by NXIVM, and the high production-value insider footage from within the cult's own files provides a remarkable archive of a life that seems so ordinary but which masks a savage cruelty. Allied to a series of interviews with cult experts and NXIVM victims, this docuseries is a terrifying portrait of a nefarious organisation moulded by a narcissistic, corrupt individual.

Watch on Starzplay, episode one available now; episode two, Sunday 25 October.

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