Monday, December 3, 2007

BELIEVERS (2007) d. Daniel Myrick

Reviewed by Rick Trottier

What is it about a film that makes it an enjoyable experience? Is it the story, the acting or the special effects? There are a lot of examples of successful films that have only one of the prior mentioned qualities. In the case of BELIEVERS, from director Daniel Myrick of BLAIR WITCH fame, the story is the overwhelming strength behind this subtle, patient and engaging film.

BELIEVERS is the story of two EMTs played by Johnny Messner and Jon Huertas who respond to an urgent need for assistance in a remote town. They are swiftly swept up in the machinations of a Doomsday cult and its followers. The paramedics are pressured to join this cult so that they can avoid the inevitable destruction of Earth that is believed to be approaching. The Quanta Group, whose creed is a complex mix of science and religion, use a variety of tactics to seduce Messner’s and Huerta’s characters. In the end, choices are made that determine the outcome of life and death.

BELIEVERS is a very successful mix of carefully crafted storytelling and visual imagery and unhurried but relentless pacing that makes for a satisfying experience. This is a thoughtful tale that has small bursts of action, mixed with compelling photography and precise editing that creates a visceral yet contemplative film. Viewers will be emotionally engaged, but will also be forced to examine own personal beliefs as well as their perceptions of cults and religion. Myrick’s story winds it way through intentionally obvious plot twists so that the real switchbacks in the story are more rewarding. The performance of the principal actors is the only detracting quality of this fine film. While some characters have an intentionally static affect necessary to the conflict, Messner and Huertas are not consistently moving, nor do they create sympathetic resonance with the viewer. Daniel Myrick clearly has a genius for coaxing sincere performances from less experienced actors, but in this case, he is not completely able to draw forth the sword from the stone.

BELIEVERS the dvd is packed with all kinds of interesting extras like commentaries by Myrick and writer Julia Fair, interviews, “hidden camera” segments and other glimpses into the mythology of the film and the techniques of the filmmaker. After watching BELIEVERS, the extras allow you to delve deeper into the craft and the creation of this worthy addition to Daniel Myrick’s canon. For some strange reason, this film did not receive a theatrical release and is only available on dvd. It was probably too smart a film.

For an exclusive 30 minute Saturday Fright Special interview with Daniel Myrick, click HERE.

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