Thursday, December 13, 2007
2007; directed by Daniel Myrick; written by Julia Fair, Daniel Myrick and Daniel Noah
Contrary to what some might think after reading this review, I'm not on the Haxan payroll. It was only a happy coincidence that Believers showed up from Netflix after I reviewed Altered. However, I'm a sucker for sets and neat progressions, so it's a nice extra that the first two reviews go from A to B and are directed by the guys behind The Blair Witch Project.
The scariest thing about religion is the possibility that it's right. Jesus will return; the world will end; non-believers will suffer in Hell for all eternity.
One of the most frightening things about religious converts – aside from their frozen smiles and corny senses of humor – is their conviction. And the possibility, however remote, that they could be right.
Believers, Daniel Myrick's first horror film since 1999's The Blair Witch Project, (and latest since 2006's idiosyncratic The Strand) takes this idea to its logical extreme. Two California paramedics, Dave and Vic, answer a call and are kidnapped by a doomsday cult just hours before its scheduled to transition from this world to the next.
The paramedics are taken to a rehabbed underground bunker run by a germ-phobic "Teacher" and locked up tight in the "Reflection Room," a washroom with strange mathematical equations scrawled across the toilet partitions. The other converts -- a collective of scientists and physicists -- talk about the ultimate truth of "The Formula" and try to convince Dave and Vic to stay with them and enjoy eternal life, which is scheduled to begin in three, two, one... Eventually they bust out, but Vic is turned into a true believer himself by the woman he tried to save (and who died) earlier.
Dave tries to escape with Vic and a little girl as the clock ticks down to doomsday or salvation, depending on which side of the religious divide you're on. Unfortunately only two of them get out alive before all Heaven breaks loose.
One of my favorite parts of The Blair Witch Project is its upsetting final shot, with Mike turned away to face the corner. I have to believe that final shot was Myrick's idea, based on the shocking final sequence of Believers, a nice twist that sets the movie and the audience on their ear.