Is Lifetime’s A Deadly Threat to My Family Based on a True Story?

Directed by Erin Lovett, ‘A Deadly Threat to My Family’ revolves around Ryan and his family as they take in his sister, Serena, who has escaped from the clutches of a dangerous cult. Eager to support Serena’s journey to recovery, Ryan welcomes her into their home, hoping to provide her with a fresh start. However, Ryan’s wife, Marielle, begins to harbor reservations about Serena’s true intentions and fears the potential threat she may pose to their family’s safety. As Serena begins to integrate herself into their lives, Marielle’s suspicions only intensify, fueled by her unease at witnessing Serena’s growing influence over their impressionable teenage daughter, Aria.

Marielle’s fears seem to materialize when another member of the cult unexpectedly appears on their doorstep. Fearing that her daughter is the next target of the sinister cult, Marielle must summon all her strength and courage to confront the looming threat and protect those she holds dear. The Lifetime thriller movie creates a chilling tale of family, cult influence, and sinister intentions, raising questions about the possible real-world stories behind its narrative.

A Deadly Threat to My Family Spins a Chilling Tale of Cult Influence

‘A Deadly Threat to My Family’ narrates a familiar premise of a cult survivor taking refuge with an innocent family, only to later reveal lingering influence and ulterior motives. The plot of the Lifetime movie is fictional, and may trigger déjà vu in some due to similar stories having been told in recent documentaries. Yet the influence of cults in the real world is not to be taken lightly, as they employ powerful brainwashing tactics and twisted morals to keep their members within their grasp.

The Netflix TV mini series, ‘Devil in Ohio,’ has a similar plotline to the Lifetime movie. A psychiatrist begins working with a cult escapee, and brings the teen girl home, asking her family to be accommodating for a few weeks. The mysterious girl, Mae, while outwardly normal, begins to worry the psychiatrist’s daughter as she wears her clothes and sleeps in her room. It becomes apparent that Mae has no intention of leaving her new home, and brings her cult’s dark influence to the family’s doorstep.

Another Lifetime film, ‘NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Daughter,’ chronicles the true story of a mother’s efforts to save her daughter from a sex cult. The actual cult originated in the 1990s in New York under Keith Raniere as a self-help organization, NXIVM, offering personal development seminars. Unbeknownst to the public, the organization had a secret society within it called DOS or the Vow.

Women were recruited into this society and were allegedly referred to as slaves, branded with Raniere’s initials, and charged with recruiting more members for the group. Raniere was assisted in his efforts by an inner circle, including co-founder Nancy Salzman and ‘Smallville’ actress Allison Mack. In 2019, Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison and fined $1.75 million for sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of a minor, and forced labor conspiracy among other charges. Nancy Salzman and Allison Mack pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy and were sentenced to 42 months and three years in prison, respectively.

The brainwashing effects of cults are far worse for those involved in them for prolonged periods of time, yet some manage to find a way out, as suggested at the start of ‘A Deadly Threat to My Family.’ Natacha Tormey was born into The Children of God cult, led by David Berg, known for its strict evangelical Christian beliefs and controversial practices. Berg allegedly encouraged sexual sharing among members and used sex as a recruitment tool. Natacha witnessed her brother being strangled in the name of discipline, causing lasting trauma. At the age of 18, Tormey escaped and found solace with her boyfriend from the outside world. Despite challenges, she adjusted and found peace. Tragically, 50 cult members have taken their own lives, highlighting its destructive impact.

The story of ‘A Deadly Threat to My Family’ is a dramatized fiction that adds to a thrilling lineup of both real and invented narratives in films that explore the devastating effects of cults. While the movie entertains with its sensational storyline, the real-world, harrowing stories of cults can oftentimes seem stranger than fiction.

Read More: Lifetime’s Locked in my House: Truth or Fiction?