The Cult Premiere

8:30pm Thursday, September 24 on TV2

Years ago, twenty-somethings Jenni (Bodelle de Ronde), Andy (Kip Chapman), and brothers Ryan (Gareth Reeves) and Nathan (Dwayne Cameron), disappeared from around the world without warning and leaving no trace. Now, suddenly and mysteriously, their families have been alerted to their existence in a secret, isolated cult, hidden deep in the New Zealand bush. Two Gardens, founded and lead by the charismatic Edward North (Latham Gaines), is a rogue offshoot of Momentum, a 20,000-strong international organisation, which offers its members spiritual fulfilment and ‘family’ in a world of disaffection and despair.

In a run down house near Two Gardens, the families, all strangers before now, plot to rescue their loved ones from Two Gardens, fearing that they’re in grave danger. They are our Liberators: Michael (Renato Bartolomei), a successful but jaded lawyer, Gina (Kate Elliot), a Sydney receptionist, Daniel (Simon London), a UK stock broker, Frances (Rachel Nash) and Harris Seger (Andy Grainger), a married couple from England who have brought Hugo (Will Wallace) an ex-SAS bodyguard, and Annabelle (Sara Wiseman), a doctor from Auckland.

But reclaiming the people they’ve lost to this cult isn’t going to be easy, and it soon becomes very clear to the families that Edward North will hold on to his followers no matter what. Can the families rescue their loved ones before it’s too late?

The idea for The Cult was born when a cult literally moved in next door to Executive Producer Philip Smith’s home in central Otago.

“The idea came to me over a few years – I had met people in Auckland in these life enhancement colleges – and always felt these outfits were cynical revenue generating ventures – exploiting the weak or vulnerable in society with the sole intention of leveraging their uncertainty for financial gain,” says Smith.

“Then a cult-like life enhancement college bought the small farm next door – and they put up seven foot fences and screens, and seemed to act strangely to me, out of the norm. I looked at the young people inside this complex – I had heard they rejected their family and friends on the outside. So I wondered about their parents, and I pondered, what would I do to get my loved ones out?”

Following the Liberators as they desperately attempt to get their loved ones out of Two Gardens, The Cult takes us on a chilling journey of personal and communal struggle, underscored by fundamental love.

“There are stories of emotional redemption in the series,” says Smith, “but the drama is heightened when we realise that this Cult is seriously off the rails.”

If you have missed an episode, full episodes of The Cult will be available free online 12 hours after the show has aired on TV2. Go to tvnz.co.nz and click the ‘ondemand’ button.

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