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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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Just personel items... no need to look in there
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Review: I've always been intrigued by movies about Voodo, Santeria and Witchcraft. I could go on and on about how part of my early childhood was spent in that religion and what not. But I'm not going to. Its something I like to leave safely tucked away in my past. Anyhows, this film, The Believers, depicts a couple of Santeria/Voodoo rituals that felt very, very genuine. I always keep a keen eye open to see just how truthful films can get...to see if the filmmakers did their homework right or not. Well, in the case of The Believers Id say they did their homework alright and got a straight freaking A man.
The Believers is about a police psychologist called Cal Jamison (Martin Sheen). He is trying to cope with his wives recent death and trying to continue on with a normal life. When he suddenly realizes that his son has been targeted by practitioners of "Brujeria" or witchcraft. They need his son to perform one of their rituals. Of course he opposes and goes on a terrifying journey to try and stop them.
What I found chilling about this film is its faithfulness to the whole Santeria thing. Having a background in this I could tell what was real and what was Hollywood Hocus Pocus bullshit, and let me tell you 90% of this film was highly accurate as to some of the rituals.
Heres the thing about this type of movie. It can very easily turn into an unrealistic film that simply exploits the religion and uses its mythology to scare people who know nothing about it. But in the case of The Believers, they made a very good effort to demonstrate that Santeria is just another religion. Its people who believe in different things that the rest of the world don't believe in. And it doesn't have to be evil simply because its different.
Of course, like everything, there's a dark side to the whole thing and in this movie its called "Brujeria" or Witchcraft. As it is explained in the film, its a form of Voodoo that is used for evil purposes and that its rituals involve amongst other things the sacrifice of children. The people in the film at first think that the ones committing the murders are people who belong to Santeria...when in fact they don't. So I liked the fact that the movie didn't stoop to the low point of exploiting the beliefs of people who practice Santeria.
The movie is frightening, because it feels real. These religions and the people who believe in them are out there. They exist. And the ignorance about their beliefs instantly translates to fear amongst people who know nothing about it. Of course the movie does take advantage of peoples ignorance about it and uses it to make people think one thing...when in fact its another. But I have say, the movie will prove to be quite frightening. It has some genuinely tense moments in there.
Jimmy Smitts, an unknown at the time, steals the show as Tom Lopez. A local who is frightened that "they" will get him. "They" know who he is and "You don't know what they can do!" Those sequences with Smitts going loco are excellent and will heighten any bit of fear that was already crawling up through the back of your spine. Also there's an evil Priest character played by Malik Bowens that is 100% concentrated evil. A memorable scene involves his eyes changing color and starting to dance as he is possessed by a spirit. So you can rest assured that we get some good solid performances in this flick.
In conclusion I'll say that this movie is scary in the same way that The Exorcist was scary. In the same way that Angel Heart and Serpent and the Rainbow were scary. Its all tied up to something that exists in real life. Of course the film, as is the case in almost all of these films dealing with Voodoo or Santeria, ventures into fantasy territory. But Ill say this, The Believers is the one that feels the most genuine out of all the movies dealing with this subject matter. So its worth a look see. Only if you want to be really scared of course.
Rating: 5 out of 5
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