What do you do when a film is a series refuses to follow its own rules and come by a story already determined? That is a question I was asking my self after watching the second in "The Messenger" series, I don't know what they were thinking. Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert's Ghost House Pictures for the most part as been fun and entertaining and in fact this one is entertaining. The thing is it does not follow the same story as the first film even though this is a prequel.
The first film was about the family that moved in after the Rollins family, this one is about the Rollins. John who was Burwell in the first film is a struggling farmer who just wants to take care of his family and live a nice quiet life with them. Things are not going as planned as luck would have it since it seems his crops are not coming in. Add in the fact that he is not getting a break any where and his wife is still buddy buddy with an ex. He is getting offers to sell and a neighbor of his seems like a nice guy so he does have options and help, even if it is very little. One day he comes across a scarecrow inside a little room in his barn, and after putting it up things seem to turn around.
His crop starts to turn up growing very well and the money starts to come in but the banker who was pressuring him to sell comes up dead. Also the man who was hitting on his wife who is her ex or whatever also turns up missing. Each time the scarecrow seems to have played a part. This is all well and fine and plays into the horror thing well and makes you think if the scarecrow is doing this or if John is going crazy. As you go back and forth between the possibilities the story seems real entertaining and fun. Things go wrong when the film while obviously a prequel tries to distance itself from the original.
It is the exact same family from the beginning of the first film so obviously we know how they end. In this film though how do we get a happy ending, it just not make sense unless their ending happens later some how. Also the story moves along as if the scarecrow is just all in his head as he is actually committing the murders, but as you will see the thing comes to life some how. That would be fine if the first film would have had some crazed straw packed lunatic in it as well picking people off, also that does not explain the fate of this family in the first film. There are other things like how did the son know the scarecrow was evil and alive and what about all the other unexplained things that never pay off.
Now while there are other things this film does have some things going for it such as lead Norman Reedus who plays John Rollins. He plays the role well playing it as if he is loosing his mind much like the first but to a more extreme extent. Richard Riehle is excellent in this as is the woman who plays his cheating and seductive wife [who is in a good sex scene and nude scenes]. The banker guy was good in this but pretty much every one else just seemed average, not bad.
Writer Todd Farmer who was a writer on the first and director Martin Barnewitz are actually not to blame for the mishap that is this film. During the director/writer commentary which is actually one of the best I have listened to they talk about how the producers of this film basically said "we know it is a prequel but we want a happy ending" writer then follows with "but the first one established what happens to the family". The producers then replied with "yeah we know but lets make this prequel a stand alone film with the family from the first, but still make it a prequel"
Well that all sounds interesting and to be honest it may have worked if they did not make the scarecrow come to life. They could have just had John going crazy and made it a psychological horror film. Even with a happy ending it could be assumed he never truly got over it and relapsed back into insanity at some point. That would have made more sense and made for a better movie. So the question is do I recommend this film, unfortunately yes. I say that because the average fan will most likely like this and all Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert fans will have to own this.
Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert's Ghost House Pictures for the most part as been fun and entertaining and in fact this one is entertaining. The thing is it does not follow the same story as the first film even though this is a prequel.
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