The CW's Cult

O'Bannon goes all Silence of the Lambs on us with the CW's Cult

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Feb 19, 2013, 10:03 AM EST

That guy who brought us Farscape has been at it again. Yep, executive producer Rockne S. O'Bannon is creating fascinating TV once more, and tonight things get more than a little twisted when The CW premieres Cult, a horror series that digs into the underbelly of obsessive fans and the TV they love.

“With Cult, it was my crazy attempt to create as visceral an experience for the audience as possible, to break down the fourth wall or remove the glass, if you will, between the viewer and what they're watching, and really attempt to give the viewer a sense of not having control over their viewing experience,” said O'Bannon in an exclusive interview with Blastr. “That someone or something is actually in control beyond the usual viewer/show covenant.”

Cult is a freaky horror series along the lines of Se7en and Silence of the Lambs, about an investigative journalist, Jeff Sefton, whose search for his missing brother takes him into the world of obsessive fans of a TV series called Cult. The series stars The Vampire Diaries' Matt Davis as Jeff, Cloverfield's Jessica Lucas as Skye and Stargate Universe's Robert Knepper as Billy Grimm, the spooky guy behind the cult of the TV series.

O'Bannon, who also has been developing Syfy's Defiance at the same time, admits that the origin for Cult came from his experience on Farscape, where a passionate fanbase grew up around the show. Even though it was early in the days of social media, that element still played a part.

“Obviously now we live in a day and age where that's common for every TV show,"  said O'Bannon. "Every TV show has a heavy social media component, and the audience for any show has the opportunity to reach out to each other and also comment on the shows while they're on, and certainly after they're on, and reach out to the actors and to the showmakers themselves. And I just thought that was a really interesting phenomenon that was just beginning around the time of Farscape. My feeling at the time was that Farscape was a fun adventure. Edgy, but certainly an adventure show. And the fans where truly individual. They were really a loving, terrific group.

“But I thought, what if the show that everyone was rallying around wasn't something like Farscape, but was something darker and more along the lines of the movie Se7en or Silence of the Lambs? What sort of fan base might that attract? What if those people were able to reach out to each other through the very anonymous means of internet communication? What could be born from that? So that's where the actual, literal idea started to come from, and then it just built from there."

What he's come up with is a “show within a show that you see in the outside world, and it blurs between the two,” said O'Bannon.

“There's a prism to the experience of Cult in the same way that you turn a prism ... you've got Cult, what I refer to as the inside show, the Billy Grimm show, and then you've got the outside show, which is Jeff, Skye and the fans and the fan world. And you've also got the world of the actors who play the characters, and so you see Robert Knepper, who plays the actor, seeing him as the actor who plays Billy,” he said.

“I wanted it to be a pretty creepy experience for you. I want a show that gets under your skin, that you don't just watch and forget about. When it's over, I want you to turn off the set or turn away, and when the next show starts, Cult hasn't quite left you. It's like, okay, I'm watching some other show or I've turned off the TV, but I still have a sense that the thing's kind of invaded my life. It isn't staying within the hour it's supposed to, just like it's not staying within the television box like it's supposed to. It really has invaded my world. That's what I'm hoping to pull off,” he said.

Here's a look at Cult:

Cult premieres tonight on the CW at 9 p.m. ET.

Are your ready for Cult to invade your life?