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The Believers
IMDB Rating: 6.0/10 from 4,172 votes
Release: 26 November 1987 (Netherlands) /

The Believers

Genre: Crime, Drama, Horror
Director: John Schlesinger,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: After the death of his wife, police psychiatrist Cal Jamison moves to New York. There he has to help in the investigation of the murder of two youths, who seem to have been immolated during a cult ritual. Jamison believes it's been Voodoo and, ignoring the warnings of his housekeeper, enters the scenery and soon gets under their influence. They try to get him to sacrifice his own son. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

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Critic Reviews


After his wife dies, police psychiatrist Cal Jamison (Martin Sheen) moves with his son, Chris (Harley Cross), from Minnesota to New York City. There, he quickly becomes embroiled in a bizarre string of occult-related murders of children and apparent suicides of adults.

If you enjoyed The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988), Angel Heart (1987) and Rosemary's Baby (1968), there's a good chance you'll enjoy The Believers as well, as it bears quite a few similarities (although it's certainly not a rip-off). In my view, it's not quite as good as those other three films, which are all 10s in my book, but it is well worth watching.

The principle flaw, which probably arises from trying to condense a novel--in this case Nicholas Conde's book, The Religion--into a screenplay, is that The Believers quickly brushes over some developments so that it's occasionally difficult to follow, especially towards the beginning. We can sense that there's much more to the story but that there just isn't time to show all of it to us.

However, a characteristic of the subgenre of occult/voodoo horror films is a prominent surrealism and dream-like narrative flow, so what might be more of a flaw in another kind of film can be more of an asset here. The Believers also benefits from a great cast--Sheen is a delight to watch (and listen to) as a psychiatrist who can fly off the handle in rage at the drop of a hat, and Jimmy Smits is wonderfully insane every time we see him.

The Believers is also worth checking out for its cinematography and set design. The set for the climax is a visual treat and integral to the plot. And the tag scene after the climax is remarkable for its visual change--beautiful, wide-open spaces and bright colors. It's just too bad that the sequel set up by director John Schlesinger never came to fruition.

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