Monday, 7 July 2008

MOVIE MONDAY - "BELIEVERS"


“Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.” - Isaac Asimov

We watched an interesting B-grade movie yesterday, which we found for sale in the $4.99 special offers DVD basket in the video shop. It is a low budget, science fiction film, Daniel Myrick’s “Believers” of 2007. Considering the investment, the movie was well worth watching (granted its flaws) and it was rather more intelligently constructed than many big budget, sci-fi thrillers.

Dave (Johnny Messner) and Vic (Jon Huertas) are paramedics sent on an emergency call in response to little girl Libby (Saige Ryan Campbell) ringing from a remote gas station. While trying to save the life of her mother, Deborah (Elizabeth Godush), they are abducted by members of the sect Quanta Group, comprising scientists, philosophers and mathematicians. The group believes in the “formula”, which predicts the end of the world after a meteor shower. Their leader The Teacher (Daniel Benzali) converts Vic to his cult, but the reluctant Dave resists and tries desperately to escape the clutches of the mad sect who are bent on passing on to a higher level of existence through mass suicide.

The dialogue is rather lacking in depth and the characterisation is a little too cliché, but overall the simple plot is one that maintains interest, the acting is good enough and the twist at the end, although not completely unexpected is still startling. The effectiveness of the movie and its chilling confronting images come from the realistic way the sect is portrayed and the obvious parallels the film draws with real life occurrences such as the Jonestown massacre. The charismatic leader, the devoted believers, the blind faith, the sect headquarters in a remote area and the secret plans for a future that is better than any present, all were portrayed convincingly in detail.

The concept of faith and belief are explored (albeit rather superficially – at least in the dialogue), and the lengths at which people go to defend their faith are examined. Similarly, the hero, who in this case is a self-confessed atheist gains our sympathy, if only because he is striving for his freedom. The added sympathy factor is that he is a family man who befriends the waif-like Libby, wishing to rescue her from the clutches of the sect. A strange pity is felt for Vic, the good Catholic, who is easily converted to the ways of the sect and who Peter-like betrays not only his own religious convictions, but also the memory of his beloved mother symbolized by the St Christopher medal he wears and with which he feels no compunction to part in his initiation-like conversion ceremony.

The film was a pleasant surprise and although not a fantastic piece of cinematic art, was well put together, more well thought through than your average thriller and more believable than the usual science fiction saga. If you come across it have a look at it…

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