The Believers

08/27/2015 21:21

Film: The Believers

Year: 1987

Director: John Schlesinger

Writer: Mark Frost

Starring: Martin Sheen, Helen Shaver and Harley Cross



This film begins with a man jogging through the neighborhood he lives in; he is played by Martin Sheen. He comes home to his wife, who is played by Janet-Laine Green, and his son, who is played by Harley Cross. Cross is giving her a challenge about eating his breakfast. Sheen spills the milk that was just delivered and goes into the shower. We see the coffee maker is leaking and Green goes to turn it off. She ends up being electrocuted.

We then shift to a foreign land where we see a ritual being conducted. There is a couple that has a son with them, but he is covered in boils. There is also a young, African-American child with milky eyes that is important in this ritual.

The film then moves to New York, where Douglas and Cross have moved into an apartment. They have a cleaning lady played by Carla Pinza. Their landlord lives across the street and she is played by Helen Shaver. Douglas has taken a job as a police psychologist. He sees a client in his house. Douglas takes Cross to the park and while he is on the phone, Cross runs off. There is a scream from a woman and Douglas panics. It turns out that there was someone doing rituals in this park, there is a headless chicken and other pieces left there. Cross picks up a shell and keeps it. They then go meet with his lawyer, who is played by Richard Masur.

We then shift to an airport where an African-American shows up, played by Malick Bowens. He convinces the guard that he doesn’t need to open his bag to check its contents and he is allowed to enter.

A lieutenant is called to a crime scene; he is played by Robert Loggia. It appears that there was a murder of a child and the undercover cop who has been investigating the underworld is all in a panic and won’t leave, he is played by Jimmy Smits. They finally calm him down and he is escorted out. Outside, Bowens watches the scene.

I will state here that this film follows a voodoo-esque religion, known as brujería. Pinza follows this and starts to do rituals to protect Cross. The more that Douglas learns about it and sees the dangers of it; he threatens to fire her if she continues to use it in his apartment.

Douglas tries to help Smits, but he is not making sense. He keeps repeating that they have his badge and that they will hurt him. He doesn’t believe he is safe. Smits continues to be erratic until he asks Douglas to meet him in a small café. He kills himself with a knife before he can get there.

Loggia wants Douglas to work with him to solve this. Another body of a child is found and there is a goat’s head floating in the water. Loggia wants Douglas to work with him and believes that Smits committed the murders. Douglas isn’t so sure. We see that Bowens is conducting curses on those involved, including Shaver’s make-up compact.

Cross is having nightmares and it is decided to send him off with his two friends, a married couple of Elizabeth Wilson and Lee Richardson. Douglas also begins to meet with Raúl Dávila. He takes them to meet with a rich and powerful man, played by Harris Yulin. This brings them to the high society of New York.

We end up seeing that Wilson and Richardson know Yulin, who comes out to their home along with Bowens. Douglas doesn’t realize he has sent his son to a dangerous place. Shaver’s curse attacks her face and causes a large boil, with spiders coming from it. How are Wilson and Richardson involved in this? Can Cross be saved? Will those performing evil be defeated?

I actually heard about this film when I visited my aunt when I was younger. She told me about it as I was getting ready to go home, but could not recall the title. The acting in this film is good. Douglas, Loggia and the rest are solid. Smits, Loggia and Shaver do a great job of being panicked after they have been cursed. I also found Bowens to be extremely creepy in his role. The story is scary to be involved in and I thought it has a good mystery. I also loved the twist of how Wilson and Richardson are involved as well. There isn’t a lot of action, because a lot of it is ‘magic’. It is still kept me intrigued.

Now this film isn’t perfect. It does have some of a disjointed feel to it. We get Smits and what happens to him and then there is a long stretch before anything else. I found out this is due to the novel this is based off of being long, so they are trying to introduce a lot in a small amount of time. I would say that the beginning is great at introducing the characters and hooking us in. Then the ending is good at the climax. The middle feels a bit out of place and drags on.

With that said, I would recommend seeing this film. It is a good scary mystery, thriller. This one has good acting; realistic representation of this religion and the horror is there. You can see the panic in the characters, yet for the most part physical changes, which would make it that much scarier. Bowens is solid as the villain and it fun to try to figure out who is involved as well. I would say to give this one a viewing.


My Rating: 7 out of 10