Would you like your new white Nikes with or with a cup of grape Kool-Aid? I’m sure it’s much to the chagrin of corporate America, but crazy cults are consumers just like you and me. They tend to go for the name brands.
However, if you don’t mind your horror movies a little more on the generic side, then slip Believers into your DVD player, come up with a mantra, and enjoy. This straight-to-disc, low-budget supernatural suspenser follows a pair of paramedics who, while out on an emergency call in an isolated area, wind up seeing something they shouldn’t and getting kidnapped by a suicide cult called The Quanta Group.
Once David (Johnny Messner) and Vic (Jon Huertas) are ensconced at the no-frills compound, strange things start to happen. Well, actually nothing much really “happens”. The captives talk about their situation, try and decipher the symbolic graffiti in their prison-like cells, and look for avenues of escape.
Meanwhile back in the real word, David’s pregnant wife worries when he doesn’t return home after his shift, and before long a search party is sent out to the dispatch area (a search party of one… I did mention Believers is a low-budget movie, right?). The story doesn’t cut back to them much, but there are a few tedium-relieving jaunts outside the compound now and again.
While it’s not exactly an action-adventure flick, Believers does, fortunately, feature fairly substantial characters and is decently directed by Daniel Myrick (he whom I with my everlasting motion sickness have to blame and damn for The Blair Witch Project). The acting is above-par for this sort of thing, and it was an especially smart move to cast Daniel Benzali as the cult’s leader, The Teacher. His voice is mesmerizing, his manner still and calculated, and his eyes -- even when he’s not playing the pied piper from hell -- seem full of universal secrets.
The clock is ticking not only on the cult’s appointment with death, but early on in the melee Vic got shot and his life-blood is trickling out. As he and David, through ingenious means, learn more about The Quanta Group, it comes to light that the crackpots have indeed have a way to resurrect themselves after their en masse bucket kick. That could be just the ticket for Vic, but what about everyone else on earth?
Tackling that question presents a prickly pear, steps slippery slopes and the whole shebang. And while I personally found Believers a bore a lot of the time, I can’t really fault it in its, er, execution.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson