Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Darkness within La Luz del Mundo’ on Netflix, a Grueling Documentary About a Religious Cult That Sheltered its Leaders’ Sex Crimes

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The Darkness within La Luz del Mundo (now on Netflix) is the second grueling documentary in the last year about the crimes perpetrated by Mexican religious leader Naason Joaquin Garcia. This Netflix original follows 2022’s HBO three-parter Unveiled: Surviving La Luz del Mundo, both of which track the details of Garcia’s serial sexual abuse of minors, and give survivors a platform to share their harrowing experiences. So be aware: the film (a Spanish-language production from director Carlos Perez Osorio) and this review contain some difficult-to-hear, potentially upsetting testimonials, but they carry the weight and power of truth – truth that could potentially topple a morally corrupt figurehead.   

The Gist: “We chose him as our savior.” That’s how the followers of Aaron Joaquin Gonzalez choose to phrase their devotion to the founder of La Luz del Mundo (which translates to “The Light of the World”), a Christian primitivist church founded in Guadalajara in 1926. Curious, considering Gonzalez declared himself to be an apostle of Jesus Christ after saying he experienced a holy vision. But that’s brainwashing for you, the circular “logic” of a cult – a cult that allegedly perpetrated a vast number of sex crimes, including rape, trafficking and child pornography for nearly a century. Allegations came to light in 2019, when five Jane Does came forward to accuse current church “apostle” Naason Joaquin Garcia of abusing them. Their voices lead the way in this documentary, which chronicles Garcia’s church leadership, grotesque deeds and eventual imprisonment – but not the downfall of La Luz del Mundo, which still exists with millions of followers in dozens of countries, so this story of hope has to uneasily coexist alongside cynicism.

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