The Believers (1987)


Martin Sheen (Badlands) stars in this dark thriller about a black magic cult practicing child sacrifices in New York City. Sheen’s a single father and police therapist who gets drawn into the case when a police officer (Jimmy Smits) become the prime suspect. The truth turns out to be more disturbing, especially when the cult targets Sheen’s own son (Harley Cross).

To be fair, I’m not a fan of voodoo and black magic stories. (See: The Serpent and the Rainbow). They tend to be all about ritual and pageantry with no real substance. But there are a few moments from The Believers that might linger in your memory — especially a disturbing sequence in which spiders hatch out of a woman’s cheek. But such visceral moments are few and far between. Despite direction by Oscar-winner John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy) and a terrific cast that also includes Robert Loggia and Richard Masur, The Believers plods along to an anti-climax without ever achieving much suspense or atmosphere.

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