The End of the World Cult

The Mirror, UK/December 12, 2007

Self-styled Messiah Michael Travesser is at that awkward stage right now that many religious cult leaders go through. The world was supposed to end on October 31 this year, and conspicuously didn't.

British film-maker Ben Anthony visited the group's settlement in New Mexico as they prepared eagerly for the end and found Michael and his weird, bony-looking followers surprisingly willing to chat.

Michael's two female companions stare at him with a demented intensity. But what's most disturbing are the children - almost all girls - who have been brought up in this cult and then left there, even after their parents realised Michael wasn't the Messiah, but a 66-year-old former sailor called Wayne Bent.

Then, as Ben hears about a ceremony that called for seven virgins to help Michael mark the end of the world, his film takes an all-too predictable detour into the cult's sexual nature and the hold Michael has over his flock.

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