26 September 2001 | secretron
In all fairness, I went into seeing The Believers with a glimmer of hope. A fervent horror fan, I looked forward to seeing a rare intellectual thriller. All the pieces were in place - a good cast (led by a usually stellar Martin Sheen), a renowned director (John Schlesinger) & the story of a police psychologist trying to pick up the pieces after his wife's premature & accidental death who gets involved, along with his son, in some occultish freakishness.
So where did The Believers go wrong? About halfway through, when Sheen's lonely Dad inexplicably & unbelievably takes up with the loopy landlady across the street (Helen Shaver). Not only is this an unwanted distraction to the plot, but the relationship moves WAY too quickly to be taken seriously in a 2-hour horror movie.
There are some scary moments, one coming within the first 5 minutes of the film, but the film loses its momentum as the discovery of what all this voodoo madness is all about unfolds. Like The Serpent & The Rainbow, logic & reason effortlessly give way to dark idols & poisoned dart silliness. The film's ominous conclusion tries too hard & becomes almost laughable.
Sheen is solid, but spends more than half the movie screaming at, to or for his son (another never-to-be-seen-again child actor who is 10 times more annoying than cute, making you wish that the bad guys eat him up before Martin starts filming Wall Street). Shaver sleepwalks through her thankless role, tho she's involved in one of the film's creepiest moments. A good supporting cast, including Robert Loggia, Richard Masur & a young Jimmy Smits are wasted.
Ultimately, The Believers is ambitious, but this voodoo doo-doo doesn't give you much to believe. 5 out of 10.