28 November 2014

The Believers (1987)
113 min.
Directed by John Schlesinger.
With Martin Sheen, Robert Loggia, Helen Shaver, Jimmy Smits, Richard Masur.
Solid voodoo horror. After the accidental death of his wife, police psychologist Sheen and his son move to New York City. Soon, Sheen finds himself involved in a series of ritualistic child murders plaguing the area...the apparent work of Latino Santeria worshippers.

But could the slayings be actual blood sacrifices, going way beyond the chicken-killing acts of a minority cult and really part of some broader upper-crust conspiracy? Featuring some taut direction, an urbanely creepy atmosphere, and a few memorable scares (such as poor Shaver's face erupting with spider ants), The Believers is surely worth mentioning. However, a predictable climax and shallow post-script ending keep it from ranking with the great films of the '70s that seem to have inspired it.

Sheen delivers an effectively controlled performance here while Loggia is always terrific, both rounding out a generally first rate cast. See similar late '80s witchcraft horrors such as Wes Craven's Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) and also Angel Heart (1987).

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