Please Shoot The Messengers
If you had never seen a horror/suspense thriller, there may be something you could appreciate about the Pang brothers new film “The Messengers.” Retract that. You still would probably hate “The Messengers.” A film so filled with clich?s of the genre and plot points so dumb that even a novice would end up laughing.
Or sure, there are the expected “boo” moments, in fact, the movie is one long series of them. But after the first few, every achingly deliberate head turn, every painfully slow creeping step along with the requisite foreboding music cue becomes tiresome and irritating.
The plot, generic as they come, involves a family leaving fast paced Chicago for the secluded plains of a North Dakota farm. The husband (Dylan McDermott from TVs “The Practice”) decides on a farm house that, naturally, looks like a remnant from a haunted house movie set, complete with cobwebs, ominous crows on the roof, and sharp instruments dangling in the barn. Oh, that country charm.
Seems he and wife (Penelope Ann Miller) have to relocate and regroup as a family because their wild teenager (Kristen Stewart) just can’t be trusted in the big city. And what awful secret about her past is revealed about half way through that led to this dire, last ditch effort by her family? She got drunk and stole the car one night. Horrors!
If she had missed her curfew they might have moved to another country altogether!
Maybe it’s too much to expect a movie of this type to be thought- provoking and well written. Without the stylistic creepiness of “The Ring” or even the Southern Gothic atmosphere of “Skeleton Key” this film has nothing of particular interest to hang its black hat on.
It steals from countless other films of the genre, from “The Birds” to “The Amityville Horror” but never in a way that makes “The Messengers” in the least bit fresh or revealing.
Hitchcock and Spielberg , particularly the latter’s “Poltergeist” seem to be an inspiration here, but if either of those two directors had released anything as uninspired as “The Messengers” neither would be a household name.
It is good to see Miller (“Adventures in Babysitting” “The Freshman”) trying to make a comeback, and McDermott can still exude the charisma that made 1994’s “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Home for the Holidays” underrated seasonal treats. Stewart (“Zathura”) shows promise as the misunderstood teen who, along with her cute little 3 year old brother (Theodore Turner) sees the ghastly evil spirits lurking in the house. John Corbett (“Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Raising Helen”) who plays the way too friendly farmhand who you know is only in this film for one turn-for-the-worse reason also deserves better material.
Run away. Far away from “The Messengers.”
PG-13 Scary images, violence