A Cult Film

Amos Lassen

David Fowler’s “Welcome to the Circle is an excellent cult film that takes down the viewer’s grip on reality. The words,  “Welcome to the circle” recur throughout the film and  are addressed to anybody finding their way into an isolated woodland community whose few residents – Rebekah (Cindy Busby), Lotus Cloud (Heather Doerksen), Sky (Andrea Brooks) and Mathew (Michael Rogers) – are clearly members of a cult.

After their tent is attacked during the night by what appears to be a bear, the injured Greg (Matthew MacCaull) and his young daughter Samantha (Taylor Dianne Robinson) end up being welcomed to the Circle but Greg is quick to pick up on the place’s strangeness and worries for his daughter’s safety. The warning signs are everywhere but leaving the Circle will prove a lot harder than entering it.

Greg’s panicky efforts to escape lead to a different story in which former Circle member Grady (Ben Cotton) leads an attempt to infiltrate the Circle and rescue Rebekah for deprogramming. Helped by Rebekah’s husband James (Matt Bellefleur) and their friend Gabriella (Hilary Jardine), Grady returns to the place that he once fled to face the part of himself that he abandoned there.

This is not just a film about a cult; it also invites the viewer to be initiated into its own illogical mind. The film quickly releases its grip on reality as it confounds insider and outsider perspectives on a cult’s workings. We take a disorienting trip through locations that we are repeatedly told are a mere ‘façade’ (and whose interconnections make no sense), in search of meaning that cannot exist. This heady confusion represents something akin to the experience of being trapped in a cult, with no clue.