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Has streaming giant Netflix released a movie about Kenya’s Shakahola cult? No, trailer is fake

IN SHORT: A viral video about the recent deaths by starvation inside a Kenyan cult is fake. A fabricated Netflix trailer could damage the streaming service’s brand, mislead viewers and spread misinformation.

A video posted on TikTok in April 2023 claims to be a trailer for a movie called “Shakahola Hunters”. 

It is captioned “Shakahola. Now on Netflix”, giving the impression that it is a movie available on the US-based on-demand streaming service

The video starts like the beginning of a Netflix show, showing the Netflix logo and jingle. Eerie music follows, along with bats flying against a black background.

The supposed trailer continues with the words “One Church” and then shows a forest from above as the camera moves slowly forward. In the middle of this scene, the words “But something else” appear. 

The trailer ends with the words “The Cult of Mackenzie” and people talking in the Kiswahili language, which is widely spoken in Kenya, can be heard in the background.

The video has over 3,900 likes and has been shared over 400 times. But has Netflix released a movie trailer about the gruesome deaths in the Shakahola forest? We checked. 


Background on Shakahola doomsday cult

Shakahola is a village in Kilifi county in Kenya. In 2019, self-styled pastor Paul Mackenzie closed his Good News International Church in the neighbouring  Mombasa county and invited his followers to move with him to Shakahola, which he called the new “Holy Land”. 

He is said to have told them that the world was coming to an end and that they would be safe in the forest. The followers would allegedly make it to heaven and see Jesus by starving themselves to death. Mackenzie denies these claims.

In late March 2023, he was arrested and charged with forcing two children to fast to death, but was released on cash bail. More bodies were later discovered, leading to Mackenzie's rearrest.

By 11 June more than 250 bodies had been exhumed from the forest.

Clips taken from another trailer

A closer look at the trailer and a reverse image search of frames from the video shows that it was made using sound and images from at least one other trailer.

It comes from a teaser trailer for the movie Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, which can be found on YouTube. 

The suspenseful music, the aerial shot of the forest and the words “But something else” in the Shakahola TikTok trailer are also taken from the Transformers movie trailer.

Furthermore, a search for movies and series available on Netflix Kenya does not show this documentary or any anything else about the Shakahola deaths.

Africa Check contacted Netflix Kenya about the alleged Shakahola Hunters trailer and they confirmed that there is no such movie on their platform.

A fake Netflix trailer can damage Netflix's brand, mislead viewers and spread misinformation.

If the trailer was created purely for entertainment and as a form of creative expression, the creators should clearly mark it as a work of fiction.

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