Continuing The CW’s descent into darkness that began with the surprisingly lurid Arrow, Cult is a meta-upon-meta scare series that tries to blur the line between what’s real and what’s paranoid fantasy.
A small but devoted fan base is obsessed, to put it lightly, with the series Cult, which airs on The CW (!). It’s about a messianic figure named Billy Grimm (Robert Knepper) whose followers obey him with a Manson-esque furor. But there’s one former follower, Kelly (Alona Tal), who is now with law enforcement and is trying to save some of her family members still in Billly’s grasp, while also working to take him down. Offscreen, certain Cult fans are beginning to think there’s more to the show than soundstages and overpaid actors. One such fan, Nate (James Pizzinato), believes he has uncovered too much about the conspiracy and that his life is in danger. He tries to convince his older brother, Jeff (Matt Davis), but to no avail. Jeff has heard it all before from his ex-junkie brother, and hey, he’s got his own problems trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered journalism career.
But Jeff has a change of heart when Nate goes missing, and he enlists the help of Skye (Jessica Lucas), a research assistant on the show, to try and figure out its mysteries.
While there are some clever gags on Cult, and some worthwhile points to be made about becoming too obsessed with our entertainment, none of it seems terribly new, nothing that Scream didn’t already do and do better. It doesn’t help that Davis and Lucas don’t really seem up to the task of carrying a weekly series, and their shortcomings are magnified by the presence of Knepper, a truly gifted actor who is relegated to ominous monologues and throwaway scenes.