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Believe (2000)

PG | | Family, Horror | 18 April 2000 (USA)
After being continually kicked out of boarding schools, Ben is sent to live with his stern Grandfather in a small town. While there, no one is interested in him with the exception of a girl... See full summary »


Robert Tinnell
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ricky Mabe ... Benjamin Stiles
Mario Boni Mario Boni ... Cliff
Justin Bradley Justin Bradley ... Owen
Vlasta Vrana ... Mortimer Higgins
Christopher Heyerdahl ... Thad Stiles
Jayne Heitmeyer ... Meredith Stiles
Chip Chuipka Chip Chuipka ... Perkins
Elisha Cuthbert ... Katherine Winslowe
Jan Rubes ... Jason Stiles
Una Kay Una Kay ... Margaret
Stephanie Morgenstern ... Mary Alice Stiles
Charles Edwin Powell ... Courtney Hartney (as Charles Powell)
Ben Gazzara ... Ellicott Winslowe
Matthew Smiley ... Frank #1 (as Matt Smiley)
Patrick Thomas Patrick Thomas ... Frank #2


After being continually kicked out of boarding schools, Ben is sent to live with his stern Grandfather in a small town. While there, no one is interested in him with the exception of a girl named Kathrine. The two become fast friends despite the unexplained protests from Ben's grandfather and Katherine's uncle. Almost as soon as he arrives, Ben begins to see the ghost of a woman around his grandfather's house. He and Katherine want to help the ghost who holds a connection to both of their families. As they research the past, Ben and Katherine find out that sometimes all you need to do to help someone is to believe. Written by Max Vaughn

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


All The Quiet On Earth Can't Silence The Dead.


Family | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic material | See all certifications »






Release Date:

18 April 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ein Geist kommt selten allein See more »

Filming Locations:

Montréal, Québec, Canada


Box Office


$1,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Benjamin Stiles: God, I know I don't thank you nearly enough, but thanks for not letting my grandfather kill me... And uh, thanks for Katherine.
See more »


References Wuthering Heights (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

A scary, affecting and entertaining movie for the whole family.
31 August 2000 | by bsennSee all my reviews

Director Robert Tinnell makes "family films," and he makes them well. He has a way of exploring important issues, such as familial communication, trust and loss, by coalescing emotions into a series of subtly potent moments. Oh, and he also loves monster movies. A life-long fan of classic (and not so classic-Believe features two scenes inspired by the 1941 Bela Lugosi Monogrammer The Invisible Ghost!) horror cinema, Tinnell turned his earlier Frankenstein and Me (1996) into a touching homage to growing up with monster movies. So for those of us with children ourselves (or for the monster movie-loving child in all of us), Tinnell makes our kind of movies. And Believe is his even more polished attempt to put some fright (and insight) into family fare. "I wanted to make a film where Hardy Boys meet the Wuthering Heights, and I hope that's what I did," explained Tinnell (who also concocted the film's story line). Indeed he did, with a touch of Val Lewton thrown in for good measure.

Believe centers on Ben Stiles (Ricky Mabe), the 14-year-old son of a diplomat, whose absentee parents have put him in a succession of boarding schools. Ben has a very unusual way to liven things up-he stages elaborate fright gags to scare his fellow pupils. After his latest stunt gets him expelled, he's sent to stay with his estranged grandfather (Jan Rubes), a reserved and imposing man who lives in a large, forbidding mansion. As the two try to establish some sort of relationship, Ben comes to realize that the estate is haunted by the ghost of a young woman-something the grandfather refuses to discuss. With the help of a recently orphaned girl named Katherine (Elisha Cuthbert), Ben attempts to unravel the mystery, leading to a confrontation between his grandfather and Katherine's great uncle (Ben Gazzara) over tragic events that transpired long ago and have affected their lives ever since.

Tinnell fills his film with nice eerie touches; shots of a shadow on a wall, leaves rustling in the wind, and shafts of illuminating moonlight (not to mention some evocative, prowling camerawork) generate an uneasy atmosphere.

"My goal in this one was really to find out if I can scare people," explained Tinnell. "I'm not a guy who runs away from that label; if you point and say 'he's a horror filmmaker,' I say great. So my goal was to prove I could do that."

But there's more to Tinnell's movie than just scaring young 'uns. "My other goal was to do something that would provide an entry level horror film for kids, with a positive message. And again, there's been a theme that's run through all four of my films pretty much: communication, the family. And I thought what better way to demonstrate how just not talking to one another, the damage it does to families. And I really do believe in that." Believe is really a story of families and relationships and the importance of communication-with an engrossing ghost yarn to hang these ten-gallon emotional hats on.

Don't be put off by Believe's so-called target audience. "It's primarily for kids from, say, eight to fourteen-primarily," admits Tinnell. "But I like to think that children of all ages, from eight to eighty, can enjoy this film. I think the best family films-this is not a children's film, obviously-I think the best family films are the ones in which the parents are sitting and watching with the kids, which is what they should be doing anyway, but don't.. I think that it works for all ages." Indeed it does.

Tinnell's heart (and, given the finished product, head) is in the right place. "I'm not going to condescend to the kids," emphasizes the director. "They deserve a good scare. Nowadays if they want to see any kind of contemporary horror, there's so much misogyny and just gratuitous bloodletting-and it's just not scary and there's no real supernaturalism. I just wanted to make a film that if I was 12 I would have loved.

In the movie, Ben explains why he stages his terror tricks by observing, "People like to be scared." Yes they do, and here Tinnell has offered up his own fright frolic, with some important ideas and involving sentiments thrown in for good measure. Aimed at those monster movie lovers who've grown up and had kids of their own (as well as those who've never really grown up at all), Believe is a sometimes scary, often affecting and always entertaining movie for the whole family. And that is a rare commodity these days.

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