MAY 10, 2008
What the fuck is wrong with Raw Feed? Why can’t they ever make a film that lives up to its concept? I’d rather see a generic story done right than a good story done wrong, but that’s precisely what RF has done with each of their first three films. First was Rest Stop, which managed to create the most unlikable heroine in cinematic history (while boring us to tears). Then came Sublime, which was OK but about 40 minutes too long, and featured needless (and underdeveloped at that) “white guilt” social commentary. Now we have Believers, which not only takes a genius concept (a doomsday cult is actually right) but also an always fun actor (Johnny Messner) and once again dulls the movie almost beyond repair.
The problem is that the cult stuff is hardly the focus. This may be the first film in history whose sequel would almost be guaranteed to be more interesting. I was more interested in the history of the cult, its members, and most importantly, the idea that they were right all along. Naturally, the whole ‘end of the world’ that the film presents would kind of make a sequel hard to pull off, but I dunno, anything’s gotta be more interesting than watching scene after scene of Messner saying “fuck you!” and rattling his cage door. It’s a waste of a ‘twist’ ending when the 90 minutes before it weren’t giving you much in the way of entertainment.
That said, it’s not a bad movie. As said, Messner’s a fun guy to watch, and the few bits of interesting thought that the movie offers are certainly compelling. And one of the cult guys is named Io (lol), and resembles Tony from the original Die Hard (the one that Willis kills first; “There are RULES for policemen.”). And the cult member is the bald guy from Murder One, so there’s something. But the reliance on typical plot developments (Messner’s coworker comes looking for him, Messner briefly escapes, etc) sort of outweigh the original aspects. You really gotta work to weed out the good and try to ignore the generic.
One thing that helps immensely is, strangely, the disc’s extra features. Most of them feature the lovably nutty Io, including his orientation video, an uncut interview that he does on some sort of daytime talk show (this includes a hilarious and subtle jab at Scientology), and his explaining how math ties into their theories about God and life and all that good stuff. There’s also a video of some folks investigating the cult compound, taking place shortly after the events of the film (but before the film’s epilogue, obviously). The 20 minutes of material here are all far more interesting and revealing than the film itself.
Then again, you can’t really be surprised by that, since the film is directed by none other than Blair Witch’s Daniel Myrick (faring far better here than Solstice, at any rate). BW had a bunch of stuff (books, video games, tv specials, and of course, the internet) that fleshed out the film, and the same thing applies here. The only difference is, BW is still fun to watch even without knowing any of that other stuff, whereas with Believers, it’s almost required viewing in order to give the film any merit at all. Without this stuff, it’s just an underdeveloped, only occasionally interesting overlong Twilight Zone episode.
The only sort of “typical” extra is a commentary, and like Solstice, it’s just not very interesting, even though Myrick has help here (co-writer Julia Fair). He rambles about technical things, and also sits in silence for long periods of time. Fair occasionally interjects some generic “this guy was great” type comments about the cast, but not much else. Myrick also points out a Blair Witch related “easter egg” that I had actually caught, so if you missed it, watch the commentary up until that point to see what it is!
And yes, I spoiled the ending of the movie but not a vague reference that occurs in the first 10 minutes.
What say you?