Monday, December 1, 2014

Film Review: The Believers (1987)

The Believers (Review)
United States/1987
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...an ominous and moody horror-crime film with too much filler..."

After losing his wife, psychologist Cal Jamison (Martin Sheen) moves to New York City with his son. All is well until Cal finds himself in the middle of ritualistic child murders.

The Believers is an interesting story. The film follows Cal as he aids in the investigation of several child murders. The murders are ritualistic, and an undercover cop blames them on cultists. The cultists who seem to be all powerful. Cal tries to help the undercover cop, but finds himself digging deeper and deeper into a superstitious conspiracy. A conspiracy that may be targeting his son. The ending was 80s cheesy, didn't land for me.

The Believers is an interesting and entertaining film. However, the film also has a handful of flaws. The most glaring flaw: too much filler. The film simply has too much filler for its own good. Sure, you get some decent time with the characters, but it sacrifices a consistent pace. At times, the film works well as a slow-burn. Other times, it's dreadfully slow and uneventful. So, sometimes I'm locked onto the screen, sometimes I'm dozing off. It's disappointing, too, I really wanted to love this film.

It has a creepy mood and ominous atmosphere, as well as some tense and suspenseful moments. The concept is also very interesting and well-executed - you don't see many horror-crime hybrids nowadays. I really liked the sacrifice-cult-superstitious themes, too. I was fully engaged during the investigation and I thoroughly enjoyed the climax. The slow-burn pace, as mentioned, was also excellent when it worked. The filler really hurts the film, it almost cripples the film.

I didn't have any issues with the acting. Martin Sheen does well as the lead. It sounds and looks like 80s acting. If you've watched older films before, you'll know what I mean. The film looks good, too. There is some poor photography, but some great looking scenes, too. I loved the theme for the film, it matches the ominous mood very well. The film, on the technical side, does show some age. It doesn't stand stern like The Exorcist and other timeless films. Director John Schlesinger often nails it. The atmosphere, the tension, the suspense... It all works so well, when it actually works. Otherwise, the film has some severe pacing and too much fat.

Overall, I likes The Believers. It could have been much better if it had been cut down, but there's no point in dwelling on what could have been. What you do get is an ominous and moody horror-crime film with too much filler and some crippling pacing issues. If you don't mind an often uneventful story and love horror films with investigation and cults, this is worthy of your time.

Score: 6/10 
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some nudity.

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