THE BELIEVER (2021) Reviews of alternative therapy horror [updated]

 

‘Soon the end will begin’

The Believer is a 2021 American horror film about a woman driven murderously insane by a mad doctor’s strange alternative therapy. Apparently…

Written and directed by Shan Serafin (Misfire; The Forest aka Forest of the Dead), the movie stars Sophie Kargman (The Malibu Tapes), Billy Zane, Aidan Bristow (Strawberry Flavored Plastic; American Mummy; All American Zombie Drugs) and Susan Wilder.

Co-produced by William Day Frank, Joshua Minyard, Sophie Kargman, Aidan Bristow and Shan Serafin.

Plot:

Lucas (Aidan Bristow), an out-of-work nuclear scientist, struggles with tension in his marriage after his wife (Sophie Kargman) mysteriously terminates her pregnancy without his consent. As his physical health begins to inexplicably deteriorate, his wife’s behaviour grows increasingly bizarre and he seeks clarity from his therapist.

Exhausted by his job search, strange events begin to occur in the home and his medical condition progressively declines. Doctor Benedict (Billy Zane) recommends they try an alternative therapy, but it only makes matters worse.

Lucas questions Benedict’s effectiveness as his grip on reality begins to fade. Violet arouses his ever-deepening suspicions, and after a visit from two mysterious guests, her insidious behaviour becomes disturbingly pervasive.

Lucas’ anger and frustration turn to fear as Violet’s sinister intentions are revealed. Lucas tries in vain to escape the evil web she has spun, but by the time he discovers the truth, it might be too late…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Serafin doesn’t want for ideas […] but he struggles to find a way to make them cohere, preferring to ladle in jump scares rather than develop his underlying ideas about relationship paranoia. The actors do their best with the material, but more generally, the film also suffers in its sound work, with the dialogue echoey and muffled, which only adds to the general confusion.” Eye for Film

“The more effective moments in The Believer involve ambiguity, a sense of rising tension, and reality collapsing in on itself. Serafin reaches for the stars, loading his film with themes of the demons that lurk within us […] While admirable in its ambition, the end result just doesn’t quite gel.” Film Threat

” …once the film picks up some speed, it fares pretty well. And even if the jump scares fell flat for the most part, I still thought that at least the third act was quite compelling. All in all, The Believer is a bit of a slow burner with a lot of pointless and stupid gum flapping in the beginning.” The Legend of the 42

The Believer didn’t quite come together for me, never settled into a space where I thought it was going to resolve itself in a more coherent fashion than the story that precedes that finale. But it’s just strange and unsettling enough to be worth a look if this kind of horror is your thing.” Movie Nation

The Believer hides malice and uncertainty in every word, taking the shorthand that all couples develop and turning it into a weapon that disorients and disturbs. The unsettling performances do their best to sell this tale of lovers and demons, but the audience is left wondering why they should worry about the soul of a man who never had one to begin with.” Nightmarish Conjurings 

“By the last half hour, The Believer has become a rather creepy mindf*ck of a film. There are elements of everything from Misery to Rosemary’s Baby in play […] As a film, The Believer is worth the effort to get through the opening and deal with its oddities. It’s weird enough to be interesting and build to a distinctly warped ending.” Voices from the Balcony

Choice dialogue:

Doctor Benedict [Billy Zane]: “Lucas, you need to acknowledge this. Don’t play these head games.”

Release date:

Freestyle Digital Media will release The Believer On-Demand on April 2nd 2021.

Cast and characters:

Sophie Kargman … Violet
Billy Zane … Doctor Benedict
Aidan Bristow … Lucas
Susan Wilder … Charlotte
Lindsey Ginter … Gus
Robbie Goldstein

Technical details:

92 minutes

Trailer:

Clip:

MOVIES and MANIA round-up review and rating:

Some of the early couple-in-conflict scenes recall the darkly humourous work of Richard Bates Jr. (Trash Fire; Suburban Gothic), however as the battle for Lucas’ soul becomes more violent and physical the slightly amusing semantics become lost in a barrage of self-survival tropes. The Believer gradually draws the viewer in and yet engages only sporadically. Enter with caution.