This cover is very misleading.
Ben has been kicked out of several boarding schools thanks to his love of pulling pranks. With few other options open to them, his parents send him to live with his estranged, paternal grandfather, a man Ben hasn’t seen since he was five years old. Not long after arriving at the estate, Ben encounters a ghostly woman in red, a woman many have clearly seen, but whose existence no one seems to wish to explain or admit. Together with his new friend, Katherine, who has also been trying to learn about the ghost, the two decide to try to find a way to put her spirit at rest.
Believe is a 2000 family horror film involving teenagers, which means only about a third of it’s focus is actually on the horror aspect, with the other two thirds focusing on the family dynamic of the characters, and teenage issues (in this case bullying and revenge). The bullying/revenge fantasy aspect in particular takes center stage about a third of the way through, almost to the point were it seems like they’ve forgotten about the ghost altogether. It’s a cute and amusing detour, but it doesn’t do that much for the overall plot.
One of the things I liked about the film was Ben’s relationship with his grandfather. In a lot of films like this where kids are sent off to live with distant relatives, the relatives in question end up being overly cruel, or dole out the harshest of punishments for the most minor of offenses, even if the rules broken had good reason to be broken. While Ben’s grandfather comes across as stern and strict, he is not above reason and leniency, or explaining his way of thinking, nor is anything he asks out of the ordinary. What’s more, despite being rather wary of his grandfather, Ben recognizes this and the film spends time showing us that, yes, he’s doing his best to follow the rules and despite his penchant for pranks, he is actually a kind and well-mannered young kid.
The acting here is a bit hit or miss. The adults are all quite serviceable, but most of the kids, with the exception of Katherine, feel a bit flat or forced. This includes Ben, which is unfortunate, considering we spend most of our time with him.
Overall, this was a pretty cute film. It’s not at all scary, considering its target audience, but it’s a nice little suspenseful/mystery/ghost story with a little bit of love and a lot of revenge fantasy mixed in for good measure. It’s not the greatest kid-focused horror film, but if you’re looking for horror-light, or you need something new to watch with the kiddies than this might be a good option.
Believe is available on several different streaming services.
It is also available on DVD.