Director – Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang
Cast – Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett, Evan Turner,
Theodore Turner, William B. Davis
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I remember being pretty stoked when I first saw a trailer for The Messengers back in 2007 due to it being directed by The Pang Brothers, whose film The Eye is one of my all-time favorites, and produced by Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Productions. Supernatural films have always interested me, and taking place in a rural farm environment usually provides nice creepy atmosphere, but despite those positive elements the film never amounted to what it could have been.
When Roy Solomon(Dylan McDermott; Hardware, “American Horror Story”) moves his family to a rural farm he just purchased he does so in hopes of finding financial success again through harvesting sunflowers. All is well at the quiet farmhouse until his daughter, Jess (Kristen Stewart; Twatlight) begins seeing weird phenomena around the home stemming from dark events that took place years prior.
Sounds like a storyline you’ve come across dozens of times right? The Messengers, written by Mark Wheaton, brings nothing new to the table despite my usual enjoyment of films that employ characters moving into a new home carrying a dark past. Setting the story at a rural farmhouse has positive given it isolates our protagonists from any nearby help, and the old creepy house made for some good atmosphere to aid in the film’s few decent scares. Wheaton’s story suffers as soon as it begins, giving us the usual cliches that we see in this films and furthering the nonsense with a “twist” that I saw coming miles away with little common sense. The character play is where the majority of the nonsense occurs, with the usual doubting of Jess’ sufferings by Roy and Denise(Penelope Ann Miller; The Relic) and the inclusion of a passer-by, Burwell(John Corbett), whose purpose was known the second he appeared on screen. So how is the horror? Well the scares written into the film are nothing new, however I fell they were written to appease the film’s popular directors…The Pang Brothers.
The Pangs were so-so in this film, giving us fantastic atmosphere and great sets that set the stage for some good horror to present itself, but the horror was hit-and-miss throughout this 90 minute effort. This being a supernatural film we are given plenty of ghost action, and it comes in the usual execution we see in Asian supernatural films – ghosts with very choppy mannerisms. Some will find this cliche, as I did, and in addition to that the scenes were not very scary as well. The acting performances were also mediocre, with none of our actors – Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller – delivering a performance that I haven’t seen before, adding more the cliched experience this film provided. While I love the Pang Brothers and still find them relevant in the horror genre, The Messengers, their first American effort, may be a hint that they should stick to the Asian films they have had great success with.
Overall, The Messengers is a muddled experience full of the usual cliches found in supernatural horror films with Hollywood’s blessing – so bad that even the Pang Brothers could not save this one.