College dropout L. Ron Hubbard wrote pulp science fiction for a living before deciding to launch the Church of Scientology in 1954, inspired by his best-selling work “Dianetics”. The crux of it all: using an electronic monitor, followers undergo “auditing”, a system of memory retrieval and confession, with “going clear” the ultimate aim. In this searing exposé, former Church members and executives reveal the inner workings of this highly controversial organization. What’s exposed will scare you.
Using Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book of the same name as a springboard, Gibney combines background on Hubbard and his mega-rich church with candid interviews about Scientology’s methods of attracting and keeping their acolytes. Archival footage reveals the founder as a kooky, slightly ghoulish spin master, and his successor David Miscavige as a slick, power-hungry evangelist. Startling testimony about abuse- physical, emotional and financial- abounds. Without didacticism, this clear-eyed report leaves little doubt about the insidious dangers of this well-guarded cult, still posing as a reputable religious institution.