6.1/10
6,063
51 user 62 critic

The Believers (1987)

A New York psychiatrist finds that a brujería-inspired cult, which believes in child sacrifice, has a keen interest in his own son.

Director:

John Schlesinger

Writers:

Nicholas Conde (book), Mark Frost (screenplay by)
1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Martin Sheen ... Cal Jamison
Helen Shaver ... Jessica Halliday
Harley Cross ... Chris Jamison
Robert Loggia ... Lt. Sean McTaggert
Elizabeth Wilson ... Kate Maslow
Harris Yulin ... Robert Calder
Lee Richardson ... Dennis Maslow
Richard Masur ... Marty Wertheimer
Carla Pinza Carla Pinza ... Carmen Ruiz
Jimmy Smits ... Tom Lopez
Raúl Dávila Raúl Dávila ... Oscar Sezine
Malick Bowens ... Palo
Janet-Laine Green ... Lisa Jamison
Larry Ramos Larry Ramos ... Diner Counterman
Philip Corey Philip Corey ... Calder's Assistant
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Storyline

After the death of his wife, police psychiatrist Cal Jamison moves to New York. There he has to help in the investigation of the murder of two youths, who seem to have been immolated during a cult ritual. Jamison believes it's been Voodoo and, ignoring the warnings of his housekeeper, enters the scenery and soon gets under their influence. They try to get him to sacrifice his own son. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They exist. Fear them. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One studio executive suggested having the Beastie Boys perform on the soundtrack. See more »

Goofs

When Cal is at the hardware store trying to find the author to the Santeria book, the guy that refuses to talk to him turns off the lights and immediately disappears, despite the fact that there is still enough light that you should have seen him there or at least walking out of frame. See more »

Quotes

Customs agent: [Arriving at the airport] Open this please?
[first lines]
Palo: Just personel items... no need to look in there
[Palo stares deep into the man's eyes]
Customs agent: [Now in a trance like state] All-Right.
See more »


Soundtracks

Patacon Pisas
Performed by Johnny Ventura
Courtesy of Combo Record Productions
See more »

User Reviews

 
Engrossing but disjointed
5 April 2020 | by drownnnsodaSee all my reviews

"The Believers" stars Martin Sheen as a forensic psychologist who moves with his young son to New York City after the death of his wife. Shortly after their arrival, a series of brutal ritualistic child murders plague the city, and his son becomes gravely endangered.

This little-talked-about late '80s quasi-horror film starts out promising--there are ominous deaths, grim warnings, and disturbing occult murders involving young children. The focus here is urban take on Santeria that has been appropriated and perverted for nefarious purposes. The first half of the film is quite engaging, with Sheen's character slowly descending into this world and learning more and more about it, including benevolent forms of it, which are practiced by his Puerto Rican housekeeper.

At its core, the film is truly about the blind leading the blind--people so dedicated to an ideological belief that they are willing to engage in horrific acts to validate it, and drag others into their underworld. Like much of John Schlesinger work, "The Believers" is quite stylish, and there is a fair amount of suspense in the first two-thirds of it--but by the final act, the film begins to wobble into the realm of ridiculousness a bit. Despite the fact that it runs nearly two hours, there is a surprising amount of connective tissue missing from the film, particularly regarding the cult practices and their overall intentions--while there are so vague implications, it feels quite oblique. There are two plot twists thrown into the mix in the last twenty minutes, and a showdown in a warehouse that feels frightfully overwrought and unbelievable. The film does end on a grim, immediate note, however, which does mitigate some of this.

Overall, I found this film quite engaging, though it lacks cogency, particularly in the third act. It is admittedly stylish and well-acted, but it leaves too many unnecessary voids behind given its runtime. I suspect the film may have been a victim of editing problems based on the way it is pieced together, though it's difficult to know for certain. Worth a watch for fans of cult-themed films, despite its lack of clarity at times. 6/10.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA | UK | Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 June 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Believers See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,342,732, 14 June 1987

Gross USA:

$18,753,438

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$18,753,438
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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