The 1978 mass suicide and murders at the Peoples Temple in Guyana shocked the world. 918 people died, 909 followers of Jim Jones died in Jonestown in the wake of the murder of Congressman Leo Ryan and his party at a nearby airstrip. The mass suicide by way of cyanide laced punch spawned the term “drinking the Kool Aid”.
There have been several films about the events. From serious examinations of mental states of Jones and his followers such as Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones to René Cardona Jr.’s infamous Guyana: Cult of the Damned. Now writer/director Andrew Jones (Werewolves Of The Third Reich, The Haunting of Margam Castle) gives the events a supernatural follow-up in The Jonestown Haunting. Can the film effectively channel the horror of the actual events?
Sarah Logan (Tiffany Ceri, The Utah Cabin Murders) survived those events, but now, ten years later, she’s still suffering the mental aftereffects. Her therapist Doctor Adelman (Doug Cooper, The Legend Of Halloween Jack) can’t seem to help her. She thinks a return to the scene of the deaths, which included her parents, might. He doesn’t agree, but can’t stop her.
Once there she finds that while people may die, evil never does. Not even of boredom after watching shit like this.
Calling The Jonestown Haunting a horror film is stretching the term to the breaking point. For almost the whole film we see Sarah reminiscing about her time at Jonestown. Or wandering around the area ten years later and having more memories. We get to hear Jim Jones (William Meredith) preach and see some of the investigation by Congressman Ryan (Kevin Stamp).
At about the hour mark she meets Gaia (Shirley Cook Brooks). She’s an expatriated American hippy living in the Guyana rain forest, (which looks a lot like the woods of the UK). We get a load of inspirational talk. An effect that looks like the Millennium Falcon going into hyperspace and a look at Sarah sporting a third eye.
Then with about fifteen minutes left The Jonestown Haunting goes off into not even half-assed, more like quarter-assed conspiracy bullshit. And then about thirty seconds of supernatural activity. And that’s a positive affirmation, nothing remotely scary.
What The Jonestown Haunting actually is, is a drama about survivor’s guilt and recovering from tragedy. Since they don’t sell very well, a few moments of mystical/supernatural activity got added in. Then they made a scary poster and called it a horror movie. Don’t be fooled.
The Jonestown Haunting is available to stream from 4Digital Media.