Netflix’s horror series ‘Devil in Ohio’ revolves around Mae Dodd, a teenage girl who runs away from her family and religious cult to seek security in the household of a psychiatrist named Suzanne Mathis. Mae is hunted by her father Malachi Dodd, the leader of the Lucifer-worshipping cult named Sliocht an Diabhail AKA Devil’s Own.
Malachi believes that he needs to sacrifice “his own flesh and blood” for the well-being of the cult and forces Mae to accept death to please Lucifer. The show offers a detailed look at the practices and activities of Malachi’s Devil’s Own, making one intrigued to know whether the cult and leader have real-life counterparts. Let’s find out!
Is Sliocht an Diabhail AKA Devil’s Own a Real Cult?
No, Sliocht an Diabhail AKA Devil’s Own is not a real cult. Although the show is loosely based on a real teenage girl who ran away from a satanic cult, Devil’s Own is a cult conceived by creator Daria Polatin and her writers. “We built all the details of the cult, all of their ideology, we made it up and their history, and we wrote like a huge document that we gave to all of our heads of departments, our costume designer, our set designer,” Polatin revealed to EW about the origin of the cult. However, rather than completely depending upon fictional details, the creator and her team researched extensively about real-life cults to conceive the satanist community.
Polatin and her team interviewed former members of varied cults to ensure authenticity. Themes and rituals of different religions and ideologies also became integral parts of the cult Polatin conceived with her writers. She also teamed up with her composer to conceive the hymn sung by the members of the cult in the eighth episode of the show. According to the historical background Polatin and her team created for the cult, costumes were designed as well. Thus, it is safe to say that Devil’s Own was conceived as a collaborative effort.
Although the cult is fictitious, the foundation that dictated the creation process was to make it appear as real as possible. For the same, Polatin had to create Devil’s Own not as an imitation of the cults that are already featured in several shows. “There are a lot of cult shows. I really took this as an exciting task to create something that is unique and bespoke, but also feels real,” the creator told Netflix’s Tudum.
For Polatin, another way to make Devil’s Own appear real was through the holy scripture of the cult, The Book of Covenants. “We even wrote part of the Book of Covenants, their ‘Bible,’ and we wrote like Bible stories, because we really wanted it to, even though it is fictional, we wanted it to feel real and specific,” Polatin added to EW.
Is Malachi Dodd Based on a Real Cult Leader?
In an interview, creator Daria Polatin revealed that she was inspired by the true story of a teenage girl to conceive the character Mae. She also added that “a lot” of what unfolds in the book happened in real life. Thus, Malachi Dodd can be based on the real teenage girl’s father. Since Polatin has been extremely secretive about the real incident that inspired her to conceive ‘Devil in Ohio’ and the eponymous source novel of the show, unfortunately, we are not able to reveal the real inspiration behind Malachi.
Considering that Polatin had taken creative liberties to conceive the show, Malachi can be partially based on a real cult leader. Although we do not know who that real cult leader is, he is not extremely different from the ones we are familiar with. Malachi does resemble Jeffrey Lundgren, an infamous cult leader who killed a family of five along with his followers allegedly because of the family’s lack of faith. In the show, Malachi approves of killing people who “break the chain” and free themselves from the cult. Like Malachi’s Devil’s Own, Lundgren’s cult was also based in the state of Ohio.