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"The Messengers" is an American horror film released by Ghost House Pictures in 2007, directed by the Pang Brothers (production of "The Eye" movies)and produced by Sami Raimi (previously involved in directing films like "Drag me to hell" and the "Spiderman" movies). The film has a guidance rating of 15 for its "frightening" scenes, rated 5.2 out of 10 on IMDB which is very average and runs for around an hour and a half. Best bits of the film is the atmosphere, setting and watching the unexplained things going on in the house. Worst part is the ending / conclusion of the film.
The story is about a family that drive all the way out to North Dakota to move into a farmhouse on an isolated location on a sunflower field. As soon as they arrive and start settling in, the family begin to experience strange things happening within the house and out on the field and the two children of the family (a baby Ben and Jess, played by Kirsten Stewart) see some freaky things which seem sinister enough to be out to cause some harm. And since the parents do not initially see what the kids see, this creates feelings of disbelief and distrust within the family, almost tearing them apart with plenty of tension. So is there actually something supernatural lurking in the house trying to destroy them, or is it all just in the mind...
The beginning: The opening scene features an event that happened in the past - it contains a good amount of suspense, mystery and allows us to feel a little sympathy for what we see happen to its victims which are two little children.This really great start immediately has the viewer interested in the story of what has happened in the house before the family move in and what this ghost (that we don't see) is possibly capable of. It gives the impression that the film is going to carry on with this kind of tone - house haunting. And since we don't get to see the supernatural thing behind the horror in these opening scenes, this in turn just has the effect of keeping us holding on to find out what's behind it. Overall a nice inviting start which at this stage you could only imagine getting better.
The characters: Characters in the film revolve mostly around the four members of the family - plus a farmer. The characters are not the liveliest and maybe it just suits the "serious" tone of film well, but I think if they may have been a little more open, interesting and had more than just one type of emotion, it would have only helped with the plot. Kirsten Stewart's character Jess is supposed to be an under-pressure, troubled teenager. She is the reason why they have come to this remote farmhouse since she has done "something wrong" and so her parents think they need to help sort out her ways. The parents (Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller) seem very uninterested in anybody other than passing the blame on to one another and we start to realise there very little interesting about them characteristically. The baby brother is a mute, and as much as he is cute, he is still really annoying as he plays with a SFX ghoul that crawls up walls and ceiling, thinking it's perfectly normal. He shows no fear, hesitancy or confusion about it and I'm just guessing a normal kid his age would be a little bit taken aback seeing that. When they hire a farmer called Burwell played by John Corbett who shows up pretty much conveniently, he does actually make the story a bit more interesting as we can't really figure him out - is he the good guy, the bad guy?? Overall the characters were okay - they do a good job playing their part but that is not to say that the cast were bad. The cast were great and it's almost as if its not there fault that their roles were the way they were. It generally made them seem very dull, but on the whole they seem to have done the best with what they are given.
The story: As we move in to the film, we learn its a psychological horror more than just a ghost story and as it goes on further into the plot, the story really changes (or looses) its direction. What really ruins the story is near the main bulk once we realise how the film changes for a bizarre idea instead, it then starts to get very predictable and seriously ridiculous. The first half of the film just does not match the second half of the plot. The thing is, the plot seemed to have had great potential to be a good one: It starts off with a family moving into a creepy looking farmhouse and as they settle in, weird things happen - nothing wrong with that and quite interesting....BUT later we get our explanation of why things are happening in the house and what caused "It" to become "trapped" - and at this point it seemed like the story became a bit stuck and got all confused and instead thrown in whatever seemed appropriate and effective and this just made the story feel really clichéd and recycled. All the scares, the supernatural events and everything else that is introduced to give us a scare, might not have been scary enough, but I blame that on the unconvincing poor storyline.
Theme: This film has everything you would expect of a horror film thematically and in terms of the setting I think its great to have all the horror elements of the genre built into it as it just nicely reinforces the creepy atmosphere that we want, in order to be taken away. The only thing is even though its nice to have all those elements, there is nothing original added on top of that to make this film stand out from the others - it just seems to rely on most unoriginal ideas and basically just that only - this doesn't allow the film to stand out much. Either way though, I do like some of the things we get in the film - things such as this secluded and isolated spooky farmhouse, things that go on in the basement of the house that no one can really explain, there are rooms that for some reason remain locked shut (but its odd that no one in the family seems too bothered about gaining an extra room in the house by opening it up), the creaky doors and floors, lot of peering out of the windows expecting ghosts, and too many crows eerily hanging about all over the place behaving strangely - the crows may have been a little bit over the top but it couldn't have actually gone to make the film any worse.
The horror / scares: The thing about "The Messengers" is that although there are no real jump out of your seat scares that are really effective in making a bad story exciting, this one goes for something else that seems to be the most positive thing about it as a whole. It doesn't try desperately to provide viewers exactly want they want out of a haunted house ghost story - and instead it gives us eerie unexplained events or little things happening around the farm and the house that we don't always get explanations to and that in turn gives off that greater sinister tone to it - like the mould growing on the wall or the baby getting out of the cot at night or the drawing of a crow that Jess finds drawn onto the dirty window - all of these we don't really get answers to which makes it quite creepy. Even though these things don't really mess with our heads as viewers, if you were actually in the girl's situation and started to see what she saw, then you would be totally freaked out, and no one really gets a clear answer in the end anyway, which just feels a bit more mysterious. This is why psychological thrillers can be more effective, similar to films like "The Shining" - "The Shining" is not REALLY scary, but there is something really alarming about it, behind all the stuff going on and this film is just like that. So even if you're unlikely to be scared out of your wits by jumpy boo scares, you may find this film is the type of horror you actually prefer instead of the over-used cheap scares we normally get.
Special effects / Visuals: This film relies quite a bit on special effects in some places but the computer generated effects that we do see are clearly average. CGI is used for the ghouls or creatures that crawl the walls and ceiling, that is a really poorly generated image which you will see looks very cartoony and a strange jerky movement - so strange you'd think it was delibrate. There is nothing terrifying visually about them even though you don't get to see them so clearly anyway and there presense on screen is very short. This sometimes means its less scary when we don't get to take in their scary overall look, but in this case, it may been for the best. Special effect is also used for the ghosts that try to grab people in to the basement and these were a lot more convincing than the bad ghouls. Other effects of the attacking crows I thought were great - they were made to look threatening. Visually the film looked really great - the sunflower field looked impressive and the outside of the house was perfectly moody - this all just helped build up the sombre, serious and strange tone and mood of the film.
The ending: There is nothing special about the ending of this film - there are no twists, turns or surprises which may have suited this film really well, and instead we get the answers behind the weird things that had been happening around the house. However explanation does not even make much sense as much as the writers might have thought it would and it just seems to be thrown into the film for the sake of ending it. Either way though, at least we do get answers behind the freaky occurrences in the house, but don't expect too much from it. What might be nice to know is there is a sweet happy ending to this story so there is something to look forward to...
I don't think this film is as bad as it has been made out to be but there are things that could have been better about it- like the ending and maybe opening up the characters a bit more, allowing them more emotion in order for the viewer to enjoy the story better. Other than that though, this horror film is as simple as any other haunted house movie - more or less. The scares are less frequent and there is hardly any blood or gore which does not suit all horror films anyway. The main thing is "The Messengers" definitely is entertaining and enjoyable, it's not too lengthy and has reasonably likeable actors. The only other thing is that the title of this film sounds a lot more menacing and interesting than the actual reality and explanation of it.
So basically, it's definitely worth a watch as long as you are not expecting a massive deal out of it - remember no twists or turns here, just a mediocre story and a brilliant setting and strong cast.
I watched this film when it was recently on TV and was quite looking forward to it, being the horror fan I am. There aren't many films in this genre, in my opinion, that can cut it these days; beautiful people, gore or CGI dominate over the tricks that actually work to create a good scary flick. Luckily, this film isn't too over the top, in fact, it's fairly understated, but the plot lets it down somewhat.
The Messengers was released in 2007 and is rated certificate 15. It was directed by Danny Pang & Oxide Pang (whom, I believe, worked on The Eye'), so I expected a fairly good quality film by people that know their genre.
The film introduces us to the Soloman family: Roy (Dylan McDermott) and his wife Denise (Penelope Miller), their teenage daughter Jess(Kristen Stewart) and their baby Ben. Following some unruly behaviour from Jess, which resulted in a drunken car accident and left baby Ben hospitalised and mute from possibly post-traumatic shock, they up and leave to start a new life.
They drive up to their new house. Yes, you guessed it, a huge house on a farm in the middle of no where. Surprise surprise. I wonder how much these sorts of houses cost in America, considering the husband starts complaining later in the film that they had used up all of their money and had chosen this new farm so as to make a return on the harvest.
Anyway, slight annoyances aside, Roy bumps into Burwell (played by John Corbett), a stranger who quickly turns into a friend as the new family struggle to settle in. Roy hires Burwell to help with the farm, and all seems well, except for Jess. Jess begins seeing and hearing things other-wordly, and despite talking with her parents, her warnings go unheard.
As the film develops, the strange events continue, with only Jess and baby Ben being able to notice them. Again, this is nothing new where children pick up ghostly goings on and adults are blind to them, but things come to a head in the end when the family are drawn into the dark side of the farm house.
What seems like an evil haunted house, isn't all it seems. There is a slight twist at the end, but it's not one that couldn't necessarily have been guessed early on in the film.
The effects in the film are of good quality and not over played. We see some scuttling creates, ghostly beings, which do actually look a bit creepy. This is emphasised with a good use of lighting and sound to build up a fairly good atmosphere. I personally didn't find it very scary or chilling, but I'm sure some would. It made me keep watching, but I wouldn't say I was totally engrossed in this film.
The acting was reasonably good, especially little baby Ben whose face was adorable throughout. Again, there was nothing extra special about the cast or script that really stuck out or drew me in to the film. It seems like the film was a little lack lustre, as it was okay and average rather than anything special.
I think there's a Messengers 2 out this year, though I'm not sure where the storyline would go from this film. The ending answers the questions you have, and almost has a 'boy who cried wolf' moral to it in terms of Jess' pleas to her parents, and it was quite a fast-paced blow-out at the end.
Overall, whilst it's not a film that I would want to watch again or buy for anyone this Christmas, it's worth a watch if it's on tele again. Horror fans, and those who want something slightly chilling, may like this, but it was just a little too average for me.
2007 RRP £15.99 Amazon £4.98
Rated certificate 15
For the most part The Messengers is quite a good horror film. It has quite a few jumpy moments, some strong special effects, and some decent acting. The only problem with it is that it doesn't really do too much that isn't predictable, and when you get predictability in a horror film, then the tension has to be constant and tight.
The truth is that at points it is very slow, and while this is naturally meant to extend the impetus with the horror moments, it serves more to actually drag it out a bit more, and softens the blow if anything.
Brothers Danny and Oxide Pang directed the film, and brought to it a certain sense of 'Jeez, did you see that!!!' with their plot. The Solomons move to a deserted farmhouse with the intention of growing sunflowers as a living. When they arrive there, their daughter soon starts to see and hear and sense ghosts, as does the really young son. These present themselves in a form that is kind of 'blink and you miss it' and you do sometimes get her questioning herself as to whether she saw something or not. Essentially, there is a bit of twisted plot involved here that becoems clear as the story drags it out, but what is heavily suggested from the start is that the previous family came to a grisly end.
The film is around the hour and a half mark, and is about right for what it is. It is enticing and mesmerising in a way, and I did find myself glued to the screen for the majority of the film. The acting was decent enough, with Penelope Ann Miller and Dylan McDermott the parents, and Kristin Stewart the disturbed daughter trying to convince everyone the house is haunted. The remainder of the cast do quite well.
Overall, it's a film that I do recommend watching, as it is a whole lot better than some other horror films I have seen recently. It's currently available from amazon.co.uk for £4.98, which is a fair price for a decent horror film. I caught this on Film4 tonight, so I unfortunately have no ideas on the extras.
I am an avid horror movie fan, but I am real picky. I don't like cheesy movies with young teenage girls hwho can't act running around screaming and making dumb decisions. In those types of movies you can always tell it is acting and it really isn't very convincing. I mean we all know it is a fake and "just a movie", but they are still supposed to try and convince us.
The messenger is a horror story about a family who moves to a farm house somewhere in the Dakota's to start a new life and try and get on their feet. They had recently gone through very tough times with the dad not having a job and their teenage daughter causing a bit of trouble where used to live in Chicago. Of course the young girl misses her old life and friends and she is already not in her right mind when she gets there and her parents can see it. Things start to seem weird in the home and only the teenage daughter "Jess" (Kristen Stewart) and their toddler baby boy "Ben" (Evan Turner) can see the evil things lurking in the shadows. One day a man shows up and asks for a job on the farm as is a normal custom in the area and the guy seems nice enough so they take him up on his offer. He ends up being the only person that will listen to her and doesn't thinks she is crazy, but explains to her that it could just be stress about moving to a new place, but both her and her younger brother who can't speak knows that it isn't stress. This man has a friendly way about him, but I can tell that he knows something or maybe has something to hide. Her father "Roy" (Dylan McDermott) is closer to his daughter than her mother Denise (Penelope Ann Miller) , but still neither of them have faith that she is telling the truth when she tells them she is seeing things. Something must have happened in this home years before they moved here and the spirits of those who may have died hear are haunting her and keeping her unsettled. The only one who can really see things clearly is the baby boy and he can't even pass his "message" on of what he can see. The following story leads you on a nightmarish ride into the cruel world of the ghosts of murdered souls who want revenge.
I was actually impressed by this movie. It was more of a psychological thriller than a horror movie, but it was scary nonetheless. The story really isn't an original idea, but it was good. The actors did a good job portraying their characters in a believable manner and they weren't you usual run of the mill corny characters. The fact that they weren't real famous made it better for me; makes it way more believable for me. The special effects weren't the best, but they were believable and this movie didn't necessarily need all the fancy graphics. Not really many songs in this movie and again the movie didn't need it. I was a little leery about watching this movie at first, but in the end I was quite impressed.
Moving in to the new house, the strange thing started to happen in the family. It's like that there is someone else in the house. The little boy sensed the entities in the house but no one could ever understand what he was trying to tell them about.
I don't think there is something special about this movie since I have heard so much about strange thing happened when someone moved to the new house. I just repeated the same story when watching this movie. It was just different ghost, the same drama.
The ending was quite predictable, not completely predictable though. The shocking scenes, yes, they are scary enough to make the goosebumps on my neck, but not enough to make me scream.
I think the trailer was so much more scary than the real movie. I don't want to recommend this movie to anyone, but I do really think that someone could possibly like this one. Maybe those horror movies collectors would like to have this one since, it was not that bad after all.
A family moves for a modest farm of sunflowers. To the few, the place starts to affect the patriarch, whose behavior becomes each more alarming time. The special effects of this movie is impressive and some scares scenes are really cool, just the story is a little "stopped". The story is about a family who move in to this farm house because the father has no job and a farm is good idea to put things back to normal, their way of living. They were all wondering why there are so many crows around the house and other strange events happened in their place but they don't give so much attention to it. But only Jess thinks something peculiar in their house. That's a supernatural movie where it has ghosts and evil forces. I loved this movie and I have it. I alywas watch it when I am alone in my house, because I get very scared with it. Enjoy this great movie.
It's that time of year again. I don't mean that it's the time of year were the nights get longer and the days colder. I mean it's the time of year when Hollywood churns out copious amounts of subpar 15 cert horror films in the hope of making money around Halloween. Why does Hollywood make so many horror flicks? Well, they are cheap to make, do not require large name actors, make their money back quickly, appeal to the teenage crowd and sell well on DVD. The fact is that a mediocre horror film is a far surer bet than a huge blockbuster or Oscar chasing drama. Why chase glory when you can put little effort into a teen horror and make a quick profit? Despite my cynical viewpoint some modern horror films do shine through, but can a 15 horror truly be horrifying?
Roy has taken the gamble of a lifetime after struggling in the city. He has moved his wife, teenage daughter and young son back to his roots as a corn farmer. He was able to buy up some land and an old house surprisingly cheaply and with all his remaining cash invested in the scheme he needs it to work. Unfortunately, his daughter is being awkward. After some trouble back in the city Roy hopes the country life will settle her down; this may not be the case as she claims to be seeing ghosts. With devastating trust issues ripping the family apart will Roy be too stubborn to realise that perhaps she is crying ghost for a reason?
Like I mentioned in my opening paragraph 'The Messengers' is the quintessential midrange horror film. The biggest star on show is Dylan McDermott and he may only be known to a few people from 'The Practise'. This is not a film about big names, but about horror. Unfortunately, if that is the case the film does not fully work. As I have said over and over again a 15 Cert is not strong enough for true horror. I am not interested in seeing copious amounts of gore, but the knowledge that some may appear does add to the tension. With a 15 I can sit back and comfortably know that it is likely to cut away when the going gets tough.
Overall, I actually liked 'The Messengers' as more of an old fashioned ghost story than a horror. It did have scary elements, but they were more on the gentle side for me. What made the film suffer was its willingness to show too much. Personally, I feel that the imagination is far more capable of creating horror than any director can put to film (this is the reason I am against 'The Dark Knights' 12A cert as it let's your mind fill the gruesome blanks). Directors the Pang Brothers choose to ignore this maxim and instead puts it on the screen. Disappointingly, what you get is some so-so CGI that copies its ideas from films like 'The Exorcist' and 'The Ring'. This is altogether odder when you consider they achieved the correct balance in films like 'The Eye' years ago. 'The Messengers' was never likely to bring anything new to the genre, but if you are going to copy the greats at least note that they use tension and pace, as much as shocks, to scare the viewer.
There are actually some positives to be taken from this film. Although McDermott is the named star it is Kristen Stewart as Jess, the teenage daughter, who carries it. She was refreshing as she was slightly younger than the girls normally found in these films and was normal looking (not overly voluptuous). Many a good horror film has risen or fallen on the back of its central heroine. The Pangs did a great job casting Stewart in the role. She is at once both tough and vulnerable, her inability to communicate with her parents means that the relationships feel quite real.
With a solid, if unknown cast, you are taken through a reasonable ghost story that holds your attention throughout without ever becoming brilliant. This is the type of film best watched with a partner who scares a little easily. Just make sure you are there with a comforting shoulder to lean on when they get scared (Sammy's love tip no. 76). The Pangs do not try to extend beyond the clichés of the genre and for that reason the film both succeeds in being ok, but fails to be anything more. If this is on TV or a cheap rental it is probably worth it. For any long time horror fans its cliché scripts and mild chills may leave you cold.
Director: Pang Brothers
Starring: Dylan McDermott and Kristen Stewart
Price: Amazon uk £2.98
They are only a couple of extras of note with a behind the scenes documentary being the best of them.
WARNING!! May contain spoilers (but not many)
The Solomon family have fled from Chicago to North Dakota for a fresh start after their daughter (jess) seriously injures their son (Ben) in a drunk driving incident. The house they have moved to is on a sunflower farm where Roy Solomon intends to harvest a top crop of sunflowers to unload the financial burden on his family. The last family to live in the house was the Rollins family who suddenly just up and left (or did they).
The film starts with creepy black and white footage of something or someone attacking a family in a house as the movie turns to colour after the titles we see a car containing the Solomon family drive up a driveway to an old house which we quickly realise was the house we saw the people being attacked in at the beginning. As the Solomon's try to settle in the son (Ben) starts to behave strangely he can see things the adults can't but won't tell anyone anything because he hasn't spoken since his accident.
The daughter (Jess) is soon aware that something else is in the house and after she is attacked tries to tell her mum and dad but they will have none of it dismissing it as total nonsense mainly due to her behaviour back in Chicago and the fact that she never wanted to move in the first place. The only person who seems sympathetic to her troubles is the now supposed friend of the family a man who her father took in and gave work to but could he have ulterior motives.
I found this to be a fairly fast moving horror and quite creepy at times without ever being really scary. It's a well thought out story with some fairly good acting making it come to life. The only draw back for me was that it seemed to be an hour and a half building you up to a 5 minute climax. I thought a lot more could have been done with the ending and also the time after her mother realises something is wrong with the house. It almost felt like they had run out of ideas after so long and just wanted to get the film over with.
All in all though I would say if you are a fan of a creepy horror then this is one of the best I have seen in some time. It's got enough about it to keep you interested right to the end with a fair share of creepiness and some jumps. There is also a small twist towards the end of the film (nothing on the scale of the original saw movie or anything like that) but enough to give you something else to think about. It's probably not a movie you are going to want to rush out and tell your friends about but it is very watchable.
Certificate - 15
Audio - Dolby digital 5.1
Video - 16.9 widescreen
Runtime - 84 minutes
Directed by - Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang
THE MAIN CAST
Kristen Stewart ... Jess Solomon
Dylan McDermott ... Roy Solomon
Penelope Ann Miller ... Denise Solomon
John Corbett ... Burwell Rollins
Evan Turner ... Ben Solomon
Theodore Turner ... Ben Solomon
Thanks for reading
You've got to move away from your friends and your school to start a new life on a farm with your family. Not the ideal life for a teenager, but unfortunately, it has to be done.
Kristen Stewart -as- Jess Solomon
Dylan McDermott -as- Roy Solomon
Penelope Ann Miller -as- Denise Solomon
Evan Turner/Theodore Turner -as- Ben Solomon
John Corbett -as- Burwell
William B. Davis -as- Colby Price
Brent Briscoe -as- Plume
Dustin Milligan -as- Bobby
February 2, 2007
The film begins straight away as we see a family in terror in a big house on a farm. They are being terrorised by something and need to get away otherwise they will be killed. As the viewer, you are already questioning what is chasing them and what is wanting to kill them? After the mother and daughter are killed, the son hides in a cupboard in another bedroom, clutching onto his toy tractor...but unfortunately, he is found, and killed.
We then see the Solomon family, making their way to move into that same house we saw at the beginning of the film. Even from a distance the house looks spooky! When they arrive, Jess is the first to explore the house and already there are creaky floorboards and a real tense atmosphere. She doesn't think much of it and helps the family to move in.
Afew days pass and the father, Roy, starts to get things sorted on the farm. The farm specialises in growing Sunflowers. He is alarmed by a strange man who appears behind him and informs him that there is still chance for him to back out of thesale of the house. According the man, the house had another offer on it and if Roy was willing to give up the house, he would get a full refund plus 15%...but he turns it down and says that he's not moving again. Later on in the movie, we all realise this was a big mistake.
Throughout this movie, the brother of Jess (Ben) is clearly way too involved with the house. Unfortunately he can't speak because of an accident that happened back where they used to live, which involved Jess. Ben is definitely seeing things in the house and there is something that is communicating with him, is it evil or good? As the viewer, you think the people communicating with him are the ghosts of the people who were killed in the house at the very beginning of the movie. Gradually, Jess starts to notice Ben see's and hears things and she too starts to hear and see things for herself. But who will believe her? We find out that Jess was abit of trouble maker back in their home city and her parents find it hard to trust her, so why should they trust her about the things she is seeing?
Afew more days pass and we get to meet a guy called John Burwell who Roy hires to help him on the farm. He's a real handyman around the farm and Jess also makes him abit of a friend, and somebody to confide in.
From this point forwards more and more things are happening in the house which even puts Jess in the hospital but her parents STILL don't believe her. With Ben not able to speak, Jess is on her own to try and convince her parents that they need to get out of the house before something bad really happens.
This film is one that I can't seem to make my mind up about. The story is pretty good, the acting is very good and the atmosphere and tension is brilliant, but yet, it still doesn't quite make it in being a memorable spooky film.
I'll start by saying that Kristen Stewart is brilliant as Jess Solomon. She's not a well known young actress, but fans of Panic Room will recognise her as the daughter of Jodie Foster stranded in the THAT room. She definitely gives it her all in this film and I must congratulate her on that. Her younger brother in the movie is also very convincing and even has a sort of evil look about him as the film progresses.
Back to my opinion, and although this film made me jump ALOT of the time, I think it's safe to say that the ending was quite dissapointing. This is my reason for my 3 star rating. Unfortunately, the ending is not what I would have expected, which some might see as a good thing, as it's not all that predictable, however, it was a little desperate and little rushed and abit of an anti-climax. Throughout the whole film, you do wonder how the film will end which is great as it leaves you guessing all the time, but when the ending finally arrives, it really does make you feel like you just wasted your time watching the whole middle section of the film.
Even though the ending was dissapointing, I still enjoyed the chills and tension of the actual film. It's your classic haunted house in the middle of no-where type of film and does deliver the spooks and the atmosphere that we all know and love when we watch a haunted house film.
There are certain parts of this film that reminded me of The Grudge, especially when you get to see the ghosts that are communicating with young Ben...they definitly have a little bit of resemblance to the ghosts in The Grudge.
Overall, I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend this film to you as I didn't like how it ended, but I also wouldn't tell you to not watch it. It still is an enjoyable watch until the end because like I said before, it does deliver with spooks and chills and you should be prepared to jump out of your skin alot! Just give it a watch anyway, and decided for yourself whether you think the ending was decent or not.
The Messengers was first in box office receipts for the weekend of February 2-4, 2007
In its first weekend of release the film grossed $14,713,321
As of March 18, 2007, the film has grossed $35,374,833 domestically
Buy this from:
Play.com - £9.99 delivered
Amazon.co.uk - £10.48 + delivery
When their eldest daughter Jess runs foul of the law, Denise and Roy Solomon decide that drastic measures are necessary. They sell their existing home and move out to the country, where Roy is to take over a sunflower farm, a recurring family tradition. The farmhouse is secluded, with no immediate neighbours and whilst Denise and Roy revel in the peace and solitude, Jess is rather less impressed. Her baby brother Ben, not yet old enough to speak, initially seems to reserve judgement.
Running the farm is hard work, and after a rather strange incident involving a flock of crows, Roy is grateful from an offer of support from a local man, looking for work. The man soon settles in with the family and is a friendly, welcome addition.
But not all the new members of the household are welcome. Strange things start to manifest themselves around the house and it seems that only baby Ben can see what is happening. That is, until Jess too starts to sense a malevolent presence about the place. But who will believe an attention-seeking, teenage tearaway?
Anyone whos been to the cinema recently will almost certainly have seen one of the Orange Film sketches, where senior executives at Orange are shown as completely ruining highly original movies due to an obsession with technology (and particularly mobile phones.) The Messengers could have been the product of one of those sketches. Directed by Oxide and Danny Pang, The Messengers immediately has a strong horror pedigree and initially, is steeped in intrigue, creepy visuals and atmospheric direction. And then, somewhere along the line, Hollywood brutally interjects, as Todd Farmers writing and Mark Wheatons tired screenplay take hold as though the Orange men have arrived.
For any self-respecting horror film fan, this is all a bit of a tragedy really. Whist the whole Asian horror genre is in itself in danger becoming tired and clichéd, it is still unquestionably atmospheric and more importantly, its very different to the style of horror film produced in the West. This is largely why remakes of Asian horror films dont particularly work. Initially, The Messengers feels like a quality Asian horror that just happens to be set in America. The opening scenes show us that macabre and horrific events have previously taken place in the house and after a few minutes of abject terror (certificate 15 only though) the audience is left rather shakily to wonder exactly what is going to happen to the Solomon family.
The creepy farmhouse looks and feels like a set from Psycho and it has to be said that only in a film would anyone move there. The aged rooms could have given rise to endless creaking floors, doors and wall panels, but the first signs of the supernatural are rather different. A ghostly pair of legs appears to be standing on the bed whilst Denise Solomon shakes out her bedding, visible only to baby Ben. A ghostly, child-like phantom scuttles along the ceiling whilst the family remains unaware. A mysterious figure wanders through the fields of sunflowers and the crows prove to be more than just a crop pest. The films standout scene probably comes when Jess starts to realise that something isnt right and that Ben can see something that she cant. Clutching the unfortunate child to her breast she stares around in blind fear as Ben points to well, that would be telling really.
But then, as events start to become more frantic, things start to unravel and Hollywoods unwelcome cliché takes hold. What starts out as a creepy, atmospheric haunting descends into an exaggerated fantasy (dont go into the basement) and plot twists become predictable to say the very least. Id figured what was going on pretty much straight away.
Such criticisms are always unfortunate, but in a film of such contrasts they become unforgivable. Its as though the Pangs just immediately lost interest in what it was that they were doing and the film falls foul of things that it would normally have fallen foul of straight away. Tired of supernatural stories featuring disturbed teenagers? Me too and The Messengers is yet another in a long line. Just for once, Id like to see a horror film about an American family that DOESNT have issues, just so that their dealings with demons can become the appropriate priority. Im also deeply critical of films where a cautious, subtle and thought-provoking plot is disrupted by stupid paranormal events that are out of keeping with everything else (were back in that basement again.)
Cast-wise, The Messengers has little to offer. Teenager Jess should be familiar with terrorisation, given that actress Kristen Stewart has already suffered in Panic Room and Cold Creek Manor. Im pretty confident that Stewart will go on to be terrorised elsewhere, as shes pretty and convincing enough to do it at regular intervals. Television favourite Dylan McDermott is less inspiring as father Roy and seems to lack the presence to carry off a leading role. Penelope Ann Miller as wife Denise is a little better, but not much. Nice to see The Smoking Man from The X Files crop up in a small part too.
I was really disappointed with The Messengers. After a hugely promising start, the tension and scares built up in such a way that I was starting to really enjoy things, only to have the rug pulled away from me. The Pangs flair to scare is strong and should have been utilised far more. But its the strength of Hollywoods ability to ruin things that wins through here.
The UK DVD is due for release on August 8th.
A Chicago-based family comprised of Roy (Dylan McDermott), his wife, Denise (Penelope Ann Miller), their teenage daughter, Jess (Kristen Stewart), and young son, Ben (played by twins Evan and Theodore Turner) try to put the hard times behind them with a move to a picturesque farmhouse in North Dakota. Jess quickly becomes convinced that the house is haunted after some peculiar occurrences while she's alone there with young Ben. But Ben can't articulate what he's seen, and Jess's story is met with scepticism by her parents. As the ghosts torment their new residents, Jess does a little research on the old farmhouse and discovers a few secrets that may just hold the key to why this is all happening.