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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 7.5%
Average: 2.5%
Pretty Bad65%
Total Crap: 25%

4 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Messengers, The
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Doug Bentin

"It’s okay. Shoot the Messengers."
2 stars

Well, it’s always good to get that first big disappointment of the year out of the way so we can settle in and not expect much anymore. And here it is.

If you lived in a creepy, isolated old farm house, and you knew that three people had been slaughtered in it, and that it was haunted, and you and your family had been almost killed there, and that a killer had been, more or less, eaten by the house, would you move?

If the answer to this question is “Why should I?” have I got a movie for you.

I’ve become quite a fan of the Asian horror films that have been teeming onto our shores since the beginning of the century, and one of the best was “The Eye” in 2002, co-directed by Danny and Oxide Pang. Sam Raimi is also a fan and following the success his production company had with importing Takashi Shimizu to remake his “The Grudge,” he’s brought the Pang Brothers over to film an original American screenplay by Mark Wheaton and Todd Farmer, “The Messengers.”

Cue the dysfunctional family. Father Roy (Dylan McDermott) has been out of work for two years. Daughter Jessica (Kristen Stewart) caused a drunken car accident. Toddler Ben (Theodore and Evan Turner) refuses to talk. Mother Denise (Penelope Ann Miller) keeps telling everyone how hard she’s working to keep them all together. Roy decides that a move from Chicago to a sunflower farm in North Dakota is the first step on the highway to heaven, so off they go to live in an old, long-abandoned, isolated house that was left to rot when the family that lived there previously mysteriously vanished one night. Why do I watch horror movies? So I’ll know better than to move to a place like this.

Soon Ben, the young’un, acts like he sees something on the ceiling and walls. In flashes of insight, we see what looks like the ghost of a child scurrying around the room. Jess is the only member of the family who suspects anything is wrong despite the fact that mom keeps scrubbing the same stain off the wall, dad has been attacked by crows, a banker from town (played by “The X-Files” Cigarette Smoking Man, William B. Davis) keeps popping up out of nowhere to offer to buy the place—Davis looks like he’s part of a plot thread that got edited out of the final film—and a wandering handyman named Burwell (John Corbett) happens along and accepts when he is asked to stay on with no pay.

Now, we know from a black and white prologue that something killed the last family to live here. Unfortunately, the prologue uses a trick that is essentially a lie. This leads us down the garden path when it comes to figuring out what is going on, but the path is pretty short and the surprise ending is fairly easy to spot around the bend.

Given that the banker, Burwell, and Bobby (Dustin Milligan), the teen boy Jess meets in town, are the only other significant characters in the picture, we have a very limited field of choice when it comes to picking a villain. I have to tell you, though, that one of the Pang’s Hong Kong thrillers pulls a bad guy out of thin air, so I was half expecting a surprise.

Most of the scares come from the sound department, headed by Ulrika Akander, as well as from “The Amityville Horror,” “The Birds,” and “The Shining.”

The film contains, to paraphrase Rossini’s description of Wagner’s music, some nice seconds separated by some tedious minutes, and is cursed by its PG-13 rating.

The Pang Brothers haven’t traveled well. Their Asian films are not all that original, but back home they find more compelling ways to work the clichés.

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originally posted: 02/16/07 06:12:07
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User Comments

3/26/09 mariah good story but pretty crappy movie 2 stars
1/09/09 Anonymous. not so great. i only saw it because kristen stewart was in it. 2 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Unintentionally hilarious "Grudge" ripoff.Actors all looked like they were heavily sedated. 1 stars
8/08/07 Indrid Cold How convenient for film students; a catalog of Japanese and American horror cliches. 2 stars
6/10/07 action movie fan you,ve seen it all before-amityville horror, the birds-both way better than this 2 stars
6/08/07 Doremimi Definitely The Grudge all over again, only this time with birds. Some decent acting tho. 3 stars
4/05/07 William Goss As much as I love Stewart, there's just nothing new here. Nothing. At all. Whatsoever. 2 stars
4/03/07 Not buying into the story! Previously nice guy, attacked by mad flock of ravens, hallucinates & turns into monster 2 stars
3/30/07 Mike I felt like I was watching the grudge. Only scary cuz of sound effects. Sucked a floppy one 2 stars
2/16/07 Axel Leos This movie is not bad, and there are worser movies MIKE HAYNE, its alright 4 stars
2/11/07 Fred Holmes Looks good to me. 4 stars
2/05/07 Shobert The Pangs have directed NOTHING but disappointments. 1 stars
2/04/07 steve owen get out of my sunflowers!!!!!!! 1 stars
2/04/07 juan diego muñoz villarreal 4 stars
2/03/07 Mike Hayne Worst movie I've EVER seen. Walked out while guy was getting pitchforked. Who cared? 1 stars
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  02-Feb-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Jun-2007

  06-Apr-2007 (15)
  DVD: 13-Aug-2007

  31-May-2007 (M)

Directed by
  Danny Pang
  Oxide Pang

Written by
  Mark Wheaton

  Kristen Stewart
  Dylan McDermott
  Penelope Ann Miller
  John Corbett

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