Stream to Scream: “BELIEVE”Columns,Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
As many fright fans already know, FANGORIA offers a great selection of gruesome movies, old and new, for free at our Hulu channel. To give you a better idea of what’s available, FANGORIA is taking in-depth looks at some of the channel’s terrifying titles with Stream to Scream. Today: Robert Tippell’s phantasmagorical BELIEVE.
There’s a certain low-rent charm in early 2000s horror, most of which was caught awkwardly between times of changing content restriction and technology. This isn’t to say that many of these films are good, but there is an evident naiveté in their mechanisms that make them intriguing nonetheless. In several cases, this is due to the intent of their concepts, as many films not riding the wave of the reemerging slasher genre were either floundering in the suffering horror-comedy genre or appealing to the family crowd, whom normally don’t have alternatives in horror.
BELIEVE definitely falls into the latter category, abiding rigorously by its PG rating and looking to teach lessons on family values along the way. The film still gets by on charm and familiarity however, despite its many flaws and the inherent cheesiness of it all. For ardent gorehounds and cinephiles, BELIEVE won’t have a leg to stand—the film completely lacks violence and visceral scares—but those looking for a campy horror film to share with the family will find BELIEVE rather endearing and even, at times proficient in shrouding its central mystery.
BELIEVE is reminiscent of made-for-TV movies in more ways than one, from it’s all-too-familiar storyline (young child forced to live with his grandfather on haunted property) to the feel-good plot points that deliver karmic justice. It’s not necessarily a good film per se, but even through the wooden dialogue and hammy acting, the film is never boring or too excessive in its moral message. BELIEVE is just entertaining enough through its silliness and half-decent production design to make the most out of its budgetary and rating restrictions.
Director Robert Tinnell should be complimented on making a not half bad-looking film out of the tired conceit and miniscule production value, and providing a stern sense of focus throughout. His focus never truly makes it to the actors however, many of whom are playing too whimsical or far too serious for their own good. This is partly due to the script from Tinnell, Roc LaFortune and Richard Goudreau that is buried in predictability and off-putting formality. Nevertheless, the film’s weird “lost in time” appeal returns in the form of Jerry Devilliers’ strange keyboard score that’s seemingly perfect for the production. BELIEVE also benefits from a diverse cast, including experienced genre performers such as Ben Gazzara, Jan Rubes and Andrea Martin, as well as younger actors like Ricky Mabe and a teenaged Elisha Cuthbert.
The appeal of BELIEVE falls on what exactly you’re looking for from the film. Horror fans who want the most blood and scares from their content at possible will dismiss BELIEVE as the innocent family entertainment that it most assuredly is. But even as kid-friendly and unmemorable as BELIEVE is as a whole, the resulting product could have always been worse had the film put preaching before entertainment.