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Movies & TV

06th Mar 2024

Netflix viewers ‘appalled’ by disturbing documentary on disciplinary school cult

Simon Kelly

Netflix true crime doc

“You will feel shock and outrage about what happened to these students.”

Netflix have dropped yet another true crime documentary in a seeming never-ending cycle over the past few weeks.

Fans of the genre won’t be complaining though, as most of the recent entries have all been hits – with the likes of American Nightmare, American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders and Lover, Stalker, Killer all gripping viewers.

Now, a brand new three-part series is engrossing audiences, as it explores the horrifying world of disciplinary schools and the cult-like behaviours behind one of the most notorious in the US – Ivy Ridge.

The Program: Cons, Cults, and Kidnapping centres around the “unsettling and ever-evolving troubled teen industry, which continues to endanger children while promising parents that the so-called wayward youth of America can be ‘fixed.'”

Created by Katherine Kubler, who herself was a student at the infamous New York school, let’s viewers in on the abuse conducted on the premises and how the institution essentially “kidnapped” children from their parents, cutting them off from the outside world and forcing them to adhere to their controlling rules.

Netflix viewers ‘appalled’ by disturbing documentary on disciplinary school cult

“For a long time, I wasn’t going to include my story because I just wanted to be a filmmaker and make it about this issue, not me,” Kubler told Netflix Tudum.

“But after all the years of research, when I found my own file and learned that it’s my very own program that left all this evidence behind, I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m going to have to be in this now.’”

Kubler recruited a host of alumni of the school in order to get a grip on the goings on behind the scenes, and the revelations are horrifying.

Viewers are all over the new series, with one saying, “Watching this now and I am blown away that it’s STILL happening! Absolutely terrifying! Shame on the parents who do this to their children. Horrifying stories from these kids made me so sick and angry!”

Another added, “I’m in the middle of watching this and I am literally appalled, this is crazy.”

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Released on the streamer on Tuesday, March 5, reviews of the show are still trickling out, but seem to be positive, if not downright disturbed over the documentary.

While most true-crime docs are just an examination of a subject, The Program is being praised for actually bringing this abusive institution to light and trying to actively shut down the system for good. You can check some reviews down below.

Chicago Sun-Times – “You will not soon forget ‘The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping,’ and you will feel shock and outrage about what happened to these students — and great admiration for the strong and still healing survivors they are today.”

Bloody Disgusting – “The Program isn’t going to erase WWASP programs, but if it can prevent a single family from entering into one of these institutions then it’s served its purpose and justified its uncomfortable examination of one of society’s ugliest oversights.”

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