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BELIEVERS: UNRATED
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Reviewed by: Ryan Doom

Directed by: Daniel Myrick

Starring:
Johnny Messner
Jon Huertas
Daniel Benzali

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Two ambulance drivers are abducted by a cult bent on mass suicide. How the hell are they going to get out of that?
Is it good movie?
When I realized that Believers was directed by Daniel Myrick of the Blair Witch Project fame, I have to admit I didnít know what to expect. Would the film be exclusive shaky cam? Would it be graphic or all implied like Witch? Would snot bubbles emerge from desperate cries for help? Thankfully, Myrick avoided these holes and created a unique film that strives (for the most part) to be different. Even with the minor prejudice of Witch hangover, I dug Believers. Itís a bit slow and the dialogue at times is painful, but overall I found it an intelligent film attempting to add life into the cult phenomenon.

With all the obvious negativity surrounding suicide cults, creating a film that examines their life in an unbiased fashion seems interesting. And itís a tough act to do, trying not to go the David Koresh route. What Believers reminded of is those Nike wearing cultists who believed that once dead theyíd be picked up by a passing comet. And while this isnít an exact duplication of that story, itís quite close. Myrick doesnít attempt to explain reasons or ideas; instead, itís an examination of their existence and what they will do in order to accomplish their goals, including holding two men hostage with treats of death. I enjoyed the quiet life of the cult, even if their matching uniforms might have been a tad much. The cult is lead by a seldom seen father, who knows and sees all through security cameras. What makes this cult interesting comes from what they believe in. It isnít a comet, but math. Yes, math. After doing some number crunching, they figured out the formula for eternal life. This isnít fully explained, but leaving it a mystery made it all the more interesting.

Regardless, Believers attempts to convert the audience into believing and buying into the premise. And it worked. The idea of two ambulance drivers sent to help a woman only to be captured by a cult bent on mass suicide seems hokey enough. But Myrick doesnít go for the cheese or over the top with the cult. Instead, that duty goes to the main character played by Johnny Messner, whoís all bulked up and looks near roid rage at times. He just gets too angry and becomes annoying after a while. Range can be a good thing. Heís not horrible or anything; in fact, Iíd place more of the blame on the screenplay as his characterís dialogue mostly comes from cussing and screaming in situations where itís not necessary.

Lastly, I want to talk about the ending. No fear, not a discussion of it, but the fact it has balls. Itís one of those endings that makes one stop and think for a moment and wonder what if. Itís a rather quick finale, but itís a damn cool two minutes, worthy of attention.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen presentation.

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1.
The Extras
Audio Commentary: Director Myrick and writer Julia Fair provide a commentary track. Like most, itís insightful and interesting. Arenít most? The only truly dull commentary I can think of is John McTiernanís Die Hard track. Now that was boring.

The DVD lists several features, but after watching them, I came to the conclusion that these were all just cut scenes. Theyíre included as features, but each runs roughly three minutes and none are behind the scenes. They show a little more insight into the cult, but listing them as features seems like a scam. The only one I found interesting was with forensic video of the crime scene. They didnít explain much here, but those videos always seem creepy as hell. The footage reminded of the Blair Witch, but in a good way. It reminded why the film had some power.
Last Call
While slow at times and not exactly making perfect sense, I found Believers an interesting film thatís worth checking out. Donít let the Blair Witch Factor worry you either, as it proves Myrick has some directing chops. Heís good working with ideas and small budgets.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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