Saturday, 18 May 2024

‘Waco’ cult shootout on Netflix; Lifetime sticks with crime


Thirty years ago, Federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), along with Texas state law enforcement and the U.S. military, were engaged in a violent standoff with the Branch Davidians cult.

“Waco: American Apocalypse” is the immersive three-part Netflix documentary series that seeks to be the definitive account of what happened in Waco, Texas in 1993 when cult leader David Koresh faced off against the government in a bloody 51-day siege.

The conflict began with the biggest gunfight on American soil since the Civil War and ended with a fiery inferno captured live on national television. In between, it riveted TV viewers across the globe, becoming the biggest news story in the world.

Released to coincide with the 30th anniversary of this national tragedy, the series is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Tiller Russell (“Night Stalker”) and features exclusive access to recently unearthed videotapes filmed inside the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit.

In addition to the videotapes, the series includes raw news footage never released to the American public and FBI recordings. There is also a look at life for the men, women and children who lived at the compound and had been convinced that the David Koresh was their messiah.

The series is driven by intimate and revealing interviews with people from all sides of the conflict, including one of David Koresh’s spiritual wives, the last child released from the compound alive, and a sniper from the FBI Hostage Rescue Team.

Additional interviews include the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit Chief, the key journalists covering the story, as well as members of the ATF tactical team who watched their colleagues die in the shootout against members of the religious sect.

Using cutting-edge visual technology, “Waco: American Apocalypse” plunges viewers inside the multifaceted clash between the Branch Davidians and federal law enforcement. The nearly two-month blood gunfight resulted in the deaths of dozens of people, including as many as 28 children.


The holiday season just a few months ago now seems like a distant memory, and though celebrating Christmas with family and friends is cherished by so many, at least now we get to move away from the cheesy Christmas movies churned out by the Lifetime Channel.

Instead, we are back to the cable network’s obsession, or so it seems, with crime dramas, many of which are based on true events. These movies might tell the tale of a group of snotty cheerleaders harassing a teacher or recurrent child abduction cases.

Sometimes the Lifetime crime movies involve people who made national headlines. For example, Heidi Fleiss, known as “The Hollywood Madam,” ran a high-class prostitute ring catering to wealthy corporate executives and Arab sheiks, and Lifetime ran with this story.

The current crime dramas may seem more run-of-the-mill. Inspired by actual events, “Girl in the Closet” follows 10-year-old Cameron who was accidentally placed into the custody of her aunt Mia (Tami Roman), a convicted murderer.

This happened after Cameron’s mother Patricia (Remy Ma) suffered an aneurysm. Mia enriches herself with benefit checks and unspeakable atrocities occur at her hands while Patricia pleads for help to find her daughter’s whereabouts for over a decade.

The ugly truth is that Cameron finds herself locked in a closet and near death, with only her faith to see her through. It is another harrowing tale of women who survive horrific circumstances.

In “The Hillsdale Adoption Scam,” Keshia Knight Pulliam stars as Bethany, who along with her husband Terrence, have a thriving business, lots of friends and a beautiful family.

Unable to have more kids, Bethany thinks it is a blessing when Georgia, who is pregnant, shows up on their porch looking for help. Though Terrence is hesitant about Georgia, Bethany dives in headfirst with the idea of adopting the unborn baby.

As the pregnancy progresses, a nagging feeling sets in that things don’t seem right, and the couple begins to discover unsettling things about Georgia and her cunning and unscrupulous motives.

“Twisted Sister” stars Mena Suvari as Emily, who seems to have it all with a beautiful daughter, a successful PR firm, an inheritance from her parents and, after couples therapy, her marriage is back on track with her husband Kyle (Mark Famiglietti).

When Lily (Joy Nash) shows up on her doorstep claiming to be her half-sister, Emily welcomes her with open arms. After all, Emily’s parents passed away and she would love to have another family member around.

But the more Emily gets to know her sister, the more things start to go awry in her life. At a loss to who she can trust, Emily begins to question everyone around her including Lily.

The “twisted” part of the sisterhood is that Lily, unbeknownst to Emily, is jealous of her success and has devised a plan to seduce her husband and steal her life. Though not based on true events, “Twisted Sister” does not seem a completely far-fetched scenario.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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05.18.2024 7:30 am - 1:00 pm
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05.18.2024 8:00 am - 11:00 am
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05.18.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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05.18.2024 10:00 am - 05.19.2024 4:00 pm
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