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HBO Docuseries Examines Bizarre Swedish Crime

True-crime shows aren’t going anywhere, folks, and now that the streamers and networks have tackled nearly every major serial killer I can think of, they’re moving on to international crimes that made global headlines but aren’t quite as well known here in America. The latest is HBO’s Pray, Obey, Kill, which examines one of the most bizarre criminal cases in Swedish history.

On Jan. 10, 2004, gunshots rang out across the remote Swedish village of Knutby, home to a small, tight-knit Pentecostal congregation. A young woman was murdered in her bed and her neighbor suffered multiple gunshot wounds. The case gained instant notoriety worldwide several days later when the victim’s 26-year-old nanny confessed, claiming she was told to commit the acts of violence through a series of text messages from God.

Attention soon turned towards the community and the Pentecostal sect’s mysterious leader, known as “The Bride of Christ,” who exerted an increasingly powerful pull over her congregation. Eventually, a scandalous love triangle emerged along with details of another suspicious death that had occurred years before. The ensuing court case became an international sensation.

In Pray, Obey, Kill, acclaimed investigative journalists Martin Johnson and Anton Berg, along with director Henrik Georgsson, shed new light on what really happened in Knutby, accessing material that has never before been revealed, and conducting exclusive interviews with former congregation members who tell the twisted truth about the sect for the first time.

Image via HBO

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The five-part docuseries was produced by Ruth Reid for Warner Brothers ITVP, and executive produced by Berg, Johnson and Martina Iacobaeus as well as HBO Europe’s Hanne Palmquist, Hanka Kastelicová and Antony Root. The first two episodes will debut simultaneously on HBO and HBO Max on April 12 at 9 p.m., followed by weekly releases of the remaining three installments.

“To me, the case and what really happened in Knutby is all about abuse of power – something I find extremely provocative,” Berg said in a statement.

“Throughout our work with the documentary, abuse of power has become the central theme — both within the Knutby sect and in the Swedish justice system,” added Johnson.

An email from HBO claims that fans of true crime shows such as Making a Murderer, Wild, Wild Country and The Vow will appreciate Pray, Obey, Kill, but to be honest, as high as I am on this genre, I couldn’t really get into any of those shows, whereas this new one strikes me as a bit more interesting. Maybe it’s because HBO Europe has been on a hot streak of late between The Investigation and Beartown, but they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt in my book, and I plan to check this series out when it debuts next week. Watch the trailer below, and let me know if you plan to do the same.

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