Featuring never-before-seen footage, this documentary delivers a startling new look at the Peoples Temple, headed by preacher Jim Jones who, in 1978, led more than 900 members to Guyana, where he orchestrated a mass suicide via tainted punch.
Jim Jones wasn't the only one responsible for the mass suicide. Blame the woman he loved, used and abused along the way. Everything about him was fake, even the "miracles" performed. Now ... See full summary »
Hue Fortson Jr.,
In this dramatization of the Jonestown Massacre, one woman comes face to face with history's most notorious cult leader, Jim Jones, in a battle to save his people. On November 18, 1978, one thousand Americans took their lives in the name of revolutionary suicide, a name mankind would interchange with Jim Jones. Just days before The Peoples Temple Church fell to mass suicide, reporter Jessica Levin accompanies a United States Congressman to investigate the living conditions in Jonestown, and allegations that Jones employs psychological tricks and violence to trap his followers against their will. But the community is a sea of smiling faces that sing praises of their leader. In order to unveil the truth about Jonestown, Jessica must go straight to its heart, and confront Jim Jones himself.Written by
A chronicle on the final events before the mass suicide at Jonestown in 1978 is told in a curious way, quite resourceful despite the limited budget and carried with great ambition. From the congressman's visit to the People Temples in Guyana and the "defectors" who wanted to return to America, the airstrip ambush and the final events with Jim Jones leading his followers to commit suicide, all of those moments are seeing through the perspective of a journalist, who notices that the place isn't all the friendly and peaceful as Jones claimed to be. It's all been registered, documented and presented many times before in several news reports and documentaries (and the Powers Boothe film), the reality is all present in the short but there's a sense of unnecessary fiction in the air, designed to not necessarily show the horror of the whole situation but instead to create a horror film vibe (with some twists that I won't bother detailing).
The story is told in a nice way in those 20-something minutes. The director had a great sense of creativity with the tiny resources that he had - and you have to pay little attention in seeing the Jonestown community in all those tiny houses all put together one next to the other when in fact the real thing were filled with huge constructions with a certain distance in between. Leandro Cano while playing Jones, despite limited screen time, has a certain charisma but unlike Jones or even others who played the man in films or that Discovery documentary. He steals the show, though something is missing (the voice sounds different). And the actress playing the reporter truly carried the film while the supporting roles (the people wanting to leave) are given to actors that you don't sense they're acting, they look, sound and feel genuine simple people caught under an extraordinary situation and finally found a way to escape from it.
A relevance this "Jonestown" has is the fact of telling that horrific story, to briefly examine possible causes of why it happened. To wide audiences get a general feel about everything concerning the deadly event that claimed more than 900 lives would be with a miniseries or a well summarized film, that I hope director David B. Berget will find a way to bring to life. Not a single moment was wasted and he created the perfect environment, the precise tension evoked by the real tragedy. He avoids the shocking bits but keeping an adequate level of horror and despair that doesn't wash away immediately. Haunting. 8/10
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