RE­VIS­IT­ING A DARK PAST

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - Front Page -

AL­THOUGH not the first doc­u­men­tary on the Vic­to­rian-based cult, this three-parter man­ages to cap­ture the riv­et­ing heart of this bizarre apoc­a­lyp­tic group run by guru Anne Hamil­tonByrne dur­ing the 1980s and ‘90s. Through tes­ti­mony from now adult cult sur­vivors and De­tec­tive Lex de Man, who set up the task­force to in­ves­ti­gate the group, view­ers are granted ac­cess to the cult’s shock­ing in­ter­nal work­ings which in­cluded forg­ing birth records and en­list­ing cult doc­tors and nurses to steal ba­bies from hos­pi­tals at birth. In to­tal 28 chil­dren, a mix of bi­o­log­i­cal and adopted, were raised by Hamil­tonByrne and her co-founder Dr Raynor John­son. With hair dyed a uni­form perox­ide blonde and dressed in quaint match­ing cloth­ing, the kids were sub­jected to phys­i­cal and emo­tional abuse, as well as be­ing dosed up with drugs such as LSD. View­ers can ex­pect to be hooked from the sen­sa­tional open­ing when a teenage girl es­capes from the re­mote lake­side prop­erty in 1987 and blows the whis­tle on the abuse, re­fus­ing to re­turn un­til an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­menced. Al­though the un­usual liv­ing ar­range­ments are ini­tially dis­missed as a com­mu­nity wel­fare is­sue, de Man pur­sues the case to ex­pose the crimes com­mit­ted un­der Hamil­ton-Byrne’s guise of cre­at­ing a “mas­ter race” of chil­dren who will save the world from Ar­maged­don. The so­cial and his­tor­i­cal con­text that al­lowed such a group to flour­ish is also in­ves­ti­gated.

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