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E.C. McMullen Jr.
"'Some People' ... may be the standout story in the book."
- John Grant, Infinityplus
E.C. McMullen Jr.
"'Willow Blue' will burrow under your skin and stay there long after you've put the book down."
- Jeffrey Reddick, Creator of
IN OTHER BOOKS
E.C. McMullen Jr.'s
CEDO LOOKED LIKE PEOPLE
in the anthology
FEAR THE REAPER
"This Ray Bradbury-esque is one of the most memorable and one of the more original stories I've read in a long time."
- Steve Isaak,
The Silver Scream
E.C. McMULLEN Jr.,
GEORGE A. ROMERO,
and many more.
Extensively quoted in
The Unauthorized Companion
Robert S. Rhine's
CIRCUS OF HELL
GAHAN WILSON &
Featuring comics by
E.C. McMullen Jr.
Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
As if we are watching a TV screen of a local TV show, a twitchy man who calls himself IO is being interviewed by Lina Vance (Carolyn Hennesy: VISITORS FROM THE UNKNOWN, GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX [English], TERMINATOR 3, TRUE BLOOD [TV], APPLESEED [English], SUBLIME, NECESSARY EVIL, THE HYBRIDS FAMILY, REVENGE [TV], A DEADLY ADOPTION, YOU'RE KILLING ME, THE WRONG HOUSE) a local joke-cracking TV hostess with no sense of humor.
IO (Erik Passoja) is there to calm the concerns of the local Community who are uneasy about his cult, The Quanta Group. IO is fragile yet enthusiastic when speaking about the day to day lifestyle of the members, but otherwise appears vacant, easily distracted and bewildered.
After the show wraps, we see an entirely different place, a neighborhood bedroom in the morning where we meet a pregnant Deborah Vaughn (Elizabeth Bogush: THE MESSENGERS [TV]) and her waking husband, David (Johnny Messner: ANACONDAS, KILL 'EM ALL, CONDEMNED, WEAPONiZED).
David is a paramedic and needs to get to work, yet all the two of them can talk about is the baby percolating inside Deborah. Today is the day they find out what sex the baby is.
At the firestation during lunch, David good naturedly fends off the table pirate antics of his partner and friend, Victor (Jon Huertas: COLD HEARTS, RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR, THE INSATIABLE, THE OBJECTIVE, STASH, ALTERED PERCEPTION, IMPRISONED, ELEMENTARY [TV]). Deborah soon appears with the good news that their baby is healthy and a boy.
Elated but having to respond to a call, David and Victor ride off to save a life.
After a long drive into the desert, they pull up to an old Haxan gas station where they find a young girl and her Mother. The Mother has gone into cardiac arrest and the paramedics begin CPR when a pick-up truck zooms up and gunmen wearing lab coats jump out, demanding that they turn the woman over to them.
Confused by circumstances, the paramedics try to explain what's going on, which results in Victor being shot.
Forced into the truck along with the child Libby (Saige Ryan: FRANKENHOOD, STRINGS [TV]), David and a wounded Victor are driven deeper into the desert, the mountains, and forced underground into an old military missile silo.
Okay, you may very well ask, what the hell is going on?
Both David and Victor, locked in small bathroom stalls rebuilt into makeshift prison cells, sure want to know.
Seems the woman in cardiac arrest, Rebecca (Deanna Russo: KNIGHT RIDER [TV 2008], MARY HORROR, DO NO HARM, WOLFPACK OF RESEDA [TV], BEING HUMAN [TV - 2011], THE ICE CREAM TRUCK), is one of the Quanta Group hierarchy. What was she trying to get away from?
When David warns his kidnappers that he and Victor were on a call and the law will come look for them, IO makes it clear that by the time the compound is found, they will all be gone.
Why, they're all leaving earth before the coming fire that will rain from the sky and destroy humanity.
A bleeding Victor and an angry and frustrated David are taken to another room where they are supposed to be enlightened.
There they hear the voice of the leader, who can't meet with them due to his poor health.
He's known only as The Teacher (Daniel Benzali: THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES) and everything he says is faith-based nonsense. Because he's a mathematician, he insists on being believed despite the fact that he refuses to present any evidence.
What mathematician would ever do that?
Throughout the movie The Teacher prattles on and on about "The Formula" without once saying what "The Formula" is or why everyone believes that The Formula not only predicts the end of the world, but also how to escape it via fleeing to the other end of the universe.
Allegedly the entire group is made up of Scientists, Mathematicians, and Philosophers. The bathroom stall cells are graffiti'd up with numbers and homilies, none of which are interesting or inspiring.
Rebecca's body is tattooed with numbers and math symbols which make no sense within the context of the movie and by the end credits, having Rebecca all tatted up this way makes no sense to how the Quanta community explained themselves.
The Quanta group's symbol is represented by a stylized Greek Psi ( Ψ ) and the members have that tat on the back of their neck for easy ID. What's up with Rebecca is never explained.
The Quanta group also know an awful lot about Victor the lapsed Catholic, and next to nothing about David. They use their mysterious knowledge about Victor to get in his head and just browbeat David with Submit! Submit! Submit!
While BELIEVERS passes itself off as science, it's not. No science is offered at all, only mystic mumbo jumbo. If The Teacher or IO were scientists, they'd know that making a skeptical realist like David believe in what they are saying is impossible, simply because they don't have enough time to explain.
There would be no sense in trying because David, like them, demands the rigors of scientific evidence. Not because he's a scientist, but he needs more than "Because I said so!"
Unfortunately, Quanta members are also not intelligent enough to so much as summarize.
Although in David's case, he has an even stronger reason not to join the Quanta group in the form of his wife and their child.
What a far more emotionally powerful, dramatic, and suspenseful movie BELIEVERS would have been, had the opening motivation and logic been followed to its organic conclusion by adding it to the mix of David's resistance, instead of scene after scene of the endless drone of techno-babble bullshit over the speakers, clearly intended to brainwash the group.
What actual scientists would willingly put up with such textbook psychological aka brainwashing, manipulation?
The BELIEVERS budget clocked in around $1.8 million dollars. A typical budget for a Direct to Video movie at the WB. I've long respected the work of Producer, Co-Writer, and Director Daniel Myrick (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, ALIEN RAIDERS, THE OBJECTIVE) and wondered if the DVD extras, in the form of commentary and out takes, would provide the visionary status the movie lacked.
Sometimes the magic is left on the cutting room floor.
Instead, throughout the commentary, Daniel repeatedly brought up the fact that they had a low budget and a short shooting schedule (15 days).
Bad script, low budget, and a short production schedule is a catastrophic trifecta waiting to happen, and it happened to BELIEVERS.
While Oren Peli shot his $15,000 budget PARANORMAL ACTIVITY in only 10 days, it took him a year to build his set (his home). Shane Carruth took three years to make his $7,000 budget PRIMER, with him learning everything all along the way.
It's exceedingly rare that a movie can be made well on both a low budget and a tight production schedule. You can have one or the other. You try to do both and you invariably wind up with crap, as an annual ton of Steven Seagal and Lorenzo Lamas movies can attest.
Direct to Video thrives on this cinematic bottom-feeding, but directors who make their living this way are forced to make up to ten embarrassingly bad movies every year just to hang from the ledge of a middle-class livelihood.
I already know Daniel is capable of more than that.
With an ending both woefully typical and so, predictable (if you've watched syndicated sitcoms from the 1970s through the 1990s featuring hair-brained religious nuts spouting numbskullery, from Barney Miller to Night Court, you know how this ends), BELIEVERS gets Two Shriek Girls.