The entire first half of this film feels frivolous and unimportant. That is, until Gene Jones shows up.
We all remember the shocking photos, bodies bloating in the hot African sun, lost lives staggered like rails in a forgotten lumber yard. Next to them lay Dixie Cups of death, a Kool-aid (or Flavor-Aid, actually) potion poisoned to prevent the real world from learning the truth about its cloistered cult beliefs. It was here in Northern Guyana were the Reverend Jim Jones, an expatriate preacher from San Francisco who decided to move his impressionable parish lock, stock, and secretive barrels halfway across the globe in order to find peace and tranquility.
But when Congressman Leo Ryan arrived in November of 1978 to gather information as part of a fact finding tour, he was initially met with open arms. Later, Jones’ guards would open fire, killing the House member along with four others. When outsiders finally stormed the compound, they found the corpses of 909 church members. Jones was dead as well, an allegedly self-inflicted bullet wound to the head.