Every now and then, it’s nice to make some new friends. Hanging out with the same crew you rolled with in high school, or possibly even grammar school, has its advantages, sure—they know what you like, they’re trustworthy, and they’re the best options when it comes to having someone set you up on a date. But there are downsides to always politicking with familiar faces. There’s no mystery to the weekend routines; you know what you’re going to get, and it’s difficult to reinvent one’s self when old friends are right there to either laugh at the fresh personal spins or chastise on some “That’s not really you” shit.

Speaking of downsides, however, making new pals also has one hell of a drawback, one that’s not easily detectable at first but has the potential to ruin one’s life: Those new cohorts of yours might be an emotionally manipulative and morally deficient cult.

That’s what happens to breakout star Elizabeth Olsen’s character in the haunting psychological drama Martha Marcy May Marlene (hitting theaters in limited release this Friday). Written and directed by 29-year-old newcomer Sean Durkin, the independent dazzler shows the mental deterioration of a girl named Martha (Olsen), who’s trying to reassemble her life immediately after escaping from a dangerous cult stationed inside a Catskill Mountains farmhouse.

Blurring Martha’s present with her past, Durkin intersperses flashbacks to her time within the group, which is overseen by an emotional terrorist named Patrick (John Hawkes); under Patrick’s control, along with a dozen or so other young adults, Martha is subjected to rape, mind games, gender separation, and homicide.

Unfortunately for Martha, she realizes the gravity of her situation a bit too late, but we’re here to prevent that from happening to you, readers, in real life. Before you decide to venture away from your lifelong companions, please consult the following 10 Signs That Your New Circle Of Friends Is Actually A Cult.

Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)

Tags: cults, john-hawkes, elizabeth-olsen, martha-marcy-may-marlene, religion
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