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God-awful and not the slightest bit "scary".

  • Feb 18, 2012
* out of ****

"The Messengers" is a derivative and boring horror film so utterly desperate to find a style that it feels the need to have a dull black-and-white opening sequence. In the context of the story, this is a flashback; but why did it have to be black-and-white? I believe there is a purpose for the stylistic selection of those two colors - to convey stylistic themes, to convey emotions, to make drama more affective and possibly even moving - but in the case of the film, I don't know what the hell its makers were thinking when they chose to open the movie in this way. It doesn't give the film a style; it doesn't even make it the slightest bit entertaining. And if you present the audience with a black-and-white opening sequence - something we don't exactly get often - and yet you're still unable to intrigue them, you've got a problem in need of some serious analysis.

The said scene depicts an old, wooden farmhouse. It also depicts the death of a mother and a child; attacked by some unseen force, perhaps a spirit of some sorts. No matter, it's like I said, this is a flashback; so that was then, and this is now. In the present time, a new family has moved into the same house; the Solomons. Members of the family are mom (Penelope Ann Miller) and dad (Dylan McDermott), teen daughter Jess (Kristin Stewart), and young child Ben. They have rather enthusiastically made the move; not knowing of what they now covet.

Jess is adventurous; or at least, she wants to be. She spends most of her days going to town with dad (and meeting a handsome young man about her age in the process), exploring her new home, and babysitting her kid brother while the parents are out and about. Ben is a lively kid; but he seems to be seeing things that nobody else can, or does. Take for instance the little boy who scampers across the ceiling. If one could see or hear this being; they would certainly take notice, but only Ben does so in the scene that involves such a thing.

So if you haven't got the gist already; the house has a particularly spooky ghost infestation. Soon, Jess is seeing what her little brother has been within the past few days that they've been in the house; ghost, ghouls, and spirits speaking from beyond the grave. And these spirits are restless. Sometimes, they just cause basic mischief; such as an un-cleanable stain on the wall. Other times, they are violent and hell-bent on destruction and deteriorating the family's relationship. This is when "The Messengers" clearly intends to be a horror film with alternative, deeper themes of family, relationships, and of course, the adolescent troubles of Jess.

Because I'm such a nice guy, and I'd rather get what little "good" there is about this film; I'll just say up front that I liked some of the cinematography. Indeed, a few shots are sensational and creepy; while others are boring and rather bland. There's a cool dutch angle in which a friendly neighbor (and crow-hunter) with a shotgun is shown for the first time in the frame. Yeah, I liked that.

Now, let's return to the rest of the film, which is, if I might add, absolutely unbearable. As I said before, the film wants to be more than a mere horror flick; but where it ends up failing the most is in both the dramatic and horrific aspects. It isn't scary because it relies too much on special effects and cheap, ineffective jump scares instead of the stuff that matters: suspense and scares that are fun and enjoyable. It also isn't dramatically engaging; because the acting is forgettable, the reactions silly, and the situation not very well thought out. The source(s) of this fine mess are the Pang Brothers, who also directed the original film version of "The Eye", which now has a Hollywood remake starring Jessica Alba. It should also be known that the screenplay was penned by Todd Farmer ("My Bloody Valentine 3D", "Drive Angry"). You've got some promising names, and a premise that had at least some potential, but then you've also got dirt-cheap, lazy execution. And a whole lot of crows.

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February 19, 2012
Being familiar with the Pang bros. work in Hong Kong, I was stunned how this turned out so bad. Yup, the writer was probably more at fault.
More The Messengers reviews
review by . October 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      THE MESSENGERS      I have been a fan of Sam Raimi and all of them since the first "Evil Dead" film and every thing afterward, so you know I own any thing the man is connected to. When he and Rob Tapert created Ghost House Pictures you know I was excited and thus far I have not have hated anything they have put out. I do how ever like some more so than others but for the most part they are entertaining. The Messengers while not a classic or …
Quick Tip by . October 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I would not say that this is a bad movie and in fact I would say it is worthy of viewing from anybody, I bought it but a rental maybe the way to go for the average viewer.
review by . December 30, 2009
The Messengers aren't saying much....
While boasting an atmospheric homage to horror films of the late 60's and early to mid 70's The Messengers has all the making of a great horror film but it lacks the soul, the acting and the true terror to really have the title of a horror/mystery thriller. But what it does do is give you a good run for your money, even though in some places it is a little cornball and preposterous.            The Messengers is an American horror film with an Asian horror …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Genre: Horror, Drama, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: February 2, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 1hr 30min
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