The Believers (1987)

Isis, the Islamic State, Isl, or whatever name you hear them called most often, you must have been living in a Kardashian induced coma to be unaware of this group of extremists, in recent times.

They’ve destroyed lives, committed some of the most heinous crimes and acts of terrorism, decimated cities, and been responsible the destruction of some of the most precious artefacts and works of art in the world.

They are driven by a pure hatred for the non-Muslim culture, believing that anyone or anything who does not adhere to their skewed ideas of faith, does not deserve to exist. They are smart, and business savvy, recruiting some of the brightest and best minds, to help them to fund their campaign of violence and domination. Organised and growing in number by the day, their methods are incredibly disciplined and organised, making them an incredibly worrying force, not seen since the days of Nazi Germany.

This month alone, two young British men were killed fighting for IS in the Middle East and Africa, and three sisters have taken their children to Syria, both mystifying and devastating the people who love them.

I cannot understand the mentality of someone who is aware of the acts of Isis and still wants to become a part of it, but in some ways I do not blame them.

To be a Muslim in today’s climate is a difficult life. Even just to resemble what the mainstream media would deem to be a typical stereotype makes you a target. In films and TV shows, you’re always cast as the bad guy, every news outlet is biased against you, there are laws against the way you dress in some countries, you’re judged everywhere you go, and ”randomly” selected at airports for spot checks.

We don’t judge Catholics for the disgusting abuse history of their priests, and the way their head honchos continuously cover up for it, seemingly condoning it. We don’t judge Christians on the Klu Klux Clan, or the Lord’s Resistance Army, we do not judge the Irish for the acts of the I.R.A or ONH, and we do not judge every German on the Nazi party.

So why should every Muslim have to bear the blame for the acts of a small group of extremists who do not speak for them?

Isis prey on the weak, the malcontent, the lost and the lonely, brainwashing them with promises of paradise in the afterlife, predaciously inciting them to hate the world around them, romantising the true horrors of  war, and seducing young girls with offers of marriage to ”heroes” of the cause.

Isis are a cult. This is standard methodology that cults use to indoctrinate their followers, and the fact that the western governments are not trying to tackle the issue of them as such is mind boggling and frankly irresponsible.

Every person travelling to Syria, Turkey, Africa, or any other place to fight on the side of the Islamic State is a victim of them also – did we blame the victims of Jim Jones and the People’s Temple? If the western world stopped treating people with a guilty until innocent attitude and taught people to be more inclusive, and accepting of the beliefs of others, then the disaffected and vulnerable, would not be so quick to fall under the spell of these predatory organisations.

There is no right and wrong spiritual path, there is only right and wrong.

Based on the novel The Religion by Nicholas Conde, The Believers is the story of a widowed police psychologist who has become the target of a nefarious occult forces who have set their sights on his only son. Murders, animal sacrifice and Martin Sheen walking around with no shirt on are all terrifying factors that make this eighties thriller what it is.

I really wanted to like this film, but it was so slow and disjointed that I got bored, ALOT, watching it. For a horror film that is cardinal sin.

The acting is what you’d expect from the era, over the top, campy and slightly ridiculous in parts, but it’s disappointing from actors that you know can do better. However, Malik Bowens as the malevolent priest Palo is the one saving grace, he is magnificently hypnotic, and every moment he is on the screen he steals the limelight.

It had an excellent plot and the fact that it had researched the religion of Santeria, showing that there practices were constantly being mistaken for the ritual sacrifices of the evil cult in the film made me think of the parallels between Isis and the Muslim faith today. I was impressed by its take on religious beliefs and the fact it wasn’t exploitative or degrading in its depiction.

Bland, without tension, and in my humble opinion a wee bit racist (even for the eighties), I would give the believers a swerve and watch The Serpent and the Rainbow instead. Unless you’ve ran out of sleeping pills … then y’know, knock yourself out.

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