The Messengers

"Bad"

The Messengers Review


While the marketing may seem enticing, The Messengers is nothing more than a run-of-the-mill haunted house movie, and a poorly made one at that. Columbia/Screen Gems would have you believe it's all about gifted children with supernatural visions (a la The Sixth Sense), but this slow-mover is aimed squarely at teens that get their chills from the Grudge movies -- American or Japanese, either will do.

A murdered family sadly haunts the home in which they met their demise, wreaking havoc on the life and mental state of a teenage girl, as she and her baby brother are the only ones that can see these not-so-grisly apparitions. Why can't their parents (Dylan McDermott and Penelope Ann Miller) catch a glimpse? That's not explained -- if it were, there might have been more meat on these bare bones.

So little Ben (twins Evan and Theodore Turner) points playfully at the dead body hanging from the ceiling. And big sister Jess (Kristen Stewart, Zathura, Panic Room) sees her family's North Dakota farmhouse get vandalized, and spies gray-colored, wide-eyed, open-mouthed ghosts that look like they came directly from the set of some J-horror sequel. The adults question Jess' honesty, of course, since she has a checkered past from a previous life in Chicago.

If only the film was shot in the Windy City. Then, we'd have some locations, some energy, some anything. Instead, the Pang brothers direct us into a corner, making the use of a rural setting look lazy and cheap, not ominous or spare. The Pangs wrote and directed the Hong Kong thriller The Eye in 2002, a more elaborate haunting tale that moves well, even shifting countries for its climax. Here, working from a script by first-timer Mark Wheaton (I swear, you can pick the first-time genre scripts out of a lineup), the Pangs are limited in scope and aggressively boring with their approach. They create a plodding rhythm and mistake it for suspense. One sequence takes so long to evolve, and uses so many of the same close-ups, that it's uncomfortably funny.

The Pangs get no help from Wheaton's dialogue, creakier and more wooden than a thousand farmhouse floorboards. McDermott and Miller appear to be hard-working actors that don't often make the top of the casting list -- how sad to nail down a role and have to slog through remedial supporting lines that have no flavor and even less originality.

Which places all the heavy lifting on young Kristen Stewart as Jess. The 16-year-old has some great, natural chops, but she's forced into a lot of face-making and slow head-turning. She's shown her skills before, and she'll soon appear in Sean Penn's adaptation of Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild -- so her future looks a lot brighter than some dingy haunted basement.

It's worth noting that The Messengers is a very tame PG-13. There was certainly the opportunity for more violence, more shock, more discomfort (especially with a toddler in the mix), but this one lays low. Clearly, that's a strategic move to pack theaters and sell DVDs, but maybe there's something positive about a horror film that doesn't go for the jugular, one a younger kid could see with a parent or older sibling. If only it weren't this bad.

Wake up, sleepyhead.



The Messengers

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Friday 2nd February 2007

Box Office USA: $35.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $1.1M

Budget: $16M

Distributed by: Screen Gems

Production compaines: Screen Gems, Ghost House Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Blue Star Pictures, Scarecrow Productions, Mandate Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 12%
Fresh: 10 Rotten: 74

IMDB: 5.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Oxide Pang,

Producer: , , Jason Shuman, Robert G. Tapert

Starring: as Jess, as Roy, as Denise, as Burwell, William B. Davis as Colby Price, as Plume, Evan Turner as Ben, Theodore Turner as Ben, as Bobby, as Michael Rollins, Michael Daingerfield as Police Officer, as Lindsay Rollins, Anna Hagan as Doctor, Shirley McQueen as Mary Rollins, Blaine Hart as Charlie, Graham Bell as Jim, Peter Scoular as Deputy, Kaitlyn McMillan as Nurse

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

It's been 15 years since Vin Diesel walked away from his XXX role, killing off...

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Advertisement
Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.