The Darkness within La Luz del Mundo (2023) Movie Review – Netflix doc delivers a stomach-churning and sickening expose

Netflix doc delivers a stomach-churning and sickening expose

The Darkness within La Luz del Mundo is a shocking documentary, lifting the hood and showing the ugly affairs one family managed to kept hidden from the public for nearly 100 years. Specifically, the story centers on the exploits of Naason Joaquin Garcia, who abused his position of power as Jesus Christ’s apostle, and the head of the La Luz del Mundo church.

While Naason is the primary focus, the first half of the film looks at the inception of the church and explosive growth that La Luz del Mundo saw in the past under the leadership of both Aaron and his son Samuel. Samuel in particular is the perfect snake oil salesman; he’s charming, charismatic but deceptive. Spreading the church out to nearly 50 countries, Samuel remained the head of church for just over 50 years before dying of cancer, and allowing his son Naason to take over.

The survivors coming forward to speak up, especially in this documentary, are all labelled as Jane Doe as a way of protecting their identities. The film tackles the role media had to play in all this, with slander against those who spoke ill of the Apostles over the years.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Naason built up Berea International while Samuel was at the height of power, essentially serving as a propaganda platform and a way of him bringing in new victims to abuse.

The latter half of the documentary then moves into Naason’s arrest, along with his inner-circle of trafficking “managers”, including Azalea and Alondra. There’s a particularly eye-opening account from Alondra’s husband, who was kept in the dark over his wife’s exploits since they got together.

This is a difficult film to watch, with eyewitness accounts and survivors retelling their stories in turn. The doc takes a dark turn very early on and never relinquishes that grip. There are accounts of rape, child porn and trafficking, all wrapped up in this sickeningly sweet façade of Naason and his family being “holier than thou” to the public.

At nearly 2 hours long, this is a difficult documentary to sit through and some of the accounts are stomach churning. Hearing one woman sobbing uncontrollably while discussing losing her virginity to Naason is particularly hard to watch.

However, the film is an important one and a reminder how those in positions of power – especially the head of churches and states – can use their influence and power to hoodwink the masses and get away with unspeakable acts. 

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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