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Overall Rating

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Worth A Look: 7.5%
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Pretty Crappy65%
Sucks: 25%

4 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Messengers, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"You Can Almost Feel The Regret Of Pangs"
1 stars

Although the title might suggest otherwise, “The Messengers” is unfortunately not the long-awaited sequel to Luc Besson’s gleefully crackpot Joan of Arc biopic in which Zombie Milla Jovovich rises from the grave to lead an army of the undead into battle against the hated British or the Minimoys or whomever. Alas, it is just another craptacular exercise in weak PG-13 horror involving resourceful-but-stupid teens, idiotic adults and ghostly apparitions with short pants, pale skin and stringy hair seeking revenge on those who wronged them as well as anyone else who happens to be in the general vicinity. In other words, it is pretty much the same thing that we have encountered in the limp American remakes of such Asian horror hits as “The Ring,” “The Ring 2,” “The Grudge,” “The Grudge 2,” and “Dark Water.” However, instead of importing a foreign storyline and screwing it all up, Sony has chosen instead to import foreign filmmakers–the Korean-born Pang brothers (best known for “The Eye,” a film which is getting its own pointless remake pretty soon)–but the results are still the same; a tepid and thrill-less thriller in which the only scary about it will be the box-office drop in the second weekend once the lousy word-of-mouth gets around.

After a fragmented prologue showing a mother and her two children being slaughtered (in PG-13 fashion) by some unseen being in their isolated farm house (shot in such a way that we instinctively realize that the finale of the film will depict the entire event in order to show the audience who or what was responsible maybe an hour after the slowest viewers have already figured it out for themselves), we are introduced to the Solomons, a family that believes that a couple years of unemployment, medical and financial traumas and familial angst can be reversed by leaving Chicago to attempt to raise sunflowers in North Dakota. (This kind of thinking only makes sense when you discover that Mom and Dad are played by Dylan McDermott and Penelope Ann Miller.) They have barely had a chance to settle into slack-jawed yokeldom when mysterious things begin to happen–Dad is attacked by crows while trying to unload seeds from his truck, Mom is stymied by an exceptionally stubborn stain on the wall and strangely silent toddler Ben (Evan and Theodore Turner) wanders around the house following things that no one else seems to see. However, it is sullen teen daughter Jess (Kristen Stewart) that gets the worst of it–she keeps hearing weird noises and is even attacked one night by icky ghouls that tear up the house (though they are thoughtful enough to instantly clean things up) and try to drag her into the basement.

Alas, since Jess got into some trouble back in Chicago–some pre-“Thirteen” bad behavior that resulted in a suspended drivers license–her parents no longer feel that she is trustworthy. (Mind you, these are the same parents who, when a shotgun-wielding drifter, played by John Corbett, wanders upon their property, they immediately invite him to work in their fields, live in their workhouse and keep an eye on their nubile daughter when they have to rush into town–a decision that makes little sense even in a family headed by the likes of Penelope Ann Miller.) Therefore, she decides to dig around and discovers that the family that used to live in the house, the ones from the prologue, disappeared without a trace years earlier. Clearly, the scratchy demons lurking in the basement are connected with that earlier disappearance but are they responsible for what happened back then or are they trying to warn Jess that history may be about to repeat itself? And if it is the latter, who is the danger in question? Is it Mom and/or Dad, whom seem to be growing increasingly unhinged because of money woes (despite the fact that their land is so fertile that they have been able to grow a massive sunflower crop in what feels like a week)? Is it the cadaverous old guy from the bank (William B. Davis) who keeps sneaking up on Dad to offer him scads of money from people offering to buy the place (despite the fact that it looks less homey than the post-slaughter Clutter farm)? Is it the shotgun-wielding drifter who seems so cool and laid-back that he couldn’t possibly have any dark secrets (despite being a shotgun-wielding drifter)? At this point, I would suggest that the easiest way to figure out who the secret bad guy is to figure out who the most seemingly superfluous character is–alas, such a trick is made more difficult in a film like this where virtually every character is superfluous.

Although the Pang Brothers do offer up the occasional interesting visual flourish (a sequence in which Jess stumbles through the sunflower patch in broad daylight is simultaneously beautiful and slightly disconcerting), they are unable to do anything to overcome the resolutely paint-by-numbers screenplay by Mark Wheaton that seems hell-bent on deploying every horror cliche that he can cram into an 90-minute movie. There is not a single element on display here that even newcomers to the genre haven’t seen done more successfully in a dozen other movies (once again, the sight of grey-skinned beings crawling on the ceiling while making odd noises is supposed to be intrinsically horrifying) and by the time that the film finally gets around to unraveling its big so-called mystery, it winds up being just as predictable as everything else on display. The performances are equally desultory as the actors, no doubt realizing early on that this particular film was going to offer nothing more than a paycheck, go through their paces while deploying just enough energy to allow them to continue standing on two feet. (The striking presence of Kristen Stewart, best known as Jodie Foster’s daughter in “Panic Room,” is completely wasted here as she becomes just another bland teen scream queen.)

The nicest thing that I can say about “The Messengers” is that it isn’t as lifeless as “The Return” or as contemptuous of its audience as “The Grudge 2.” Other than that, this is genre filmmaking at its most relentlessly generic and the only really scary thing about it is that one of the many producers involved with the project is none other than Sam Raimi, the creator of the cult classic “Evil Dead” trilogy. Those films, you will recall, were made on shoestring budgets but continue to be beloved because they were made with wit, style, energy and creativity–four words that will not immediately leap into the minds of anyone sitting through “The Messengers.”

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15588&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/02/07 23:13:24
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User Comments

3/25/09 mariah good story but pretty crappy movie 2 stars
1/08/09 Anonymous. not so great. i only saw it because kristen stewart was in it. 2 stars
10/23/07 Ivana Mann Unintentionally hilarious "Grudge" ripoff.Actors all looked like they were heavily sedated. 1 stars
8/07/07 Indrid Cold How convenient for film students; a catalog of Japanese and American horror cliches. 2 stars
6/09/07 action movie fan you,ve seen it all before-amityville horror, the birds-both way better than this 2 stars
6/07/07 Doremimi Definitely The Grudge all over again, only this time with birds. Some decent acting tho. 3 stars
4/05/07 William Goss As much as I love Stewart, there's just nothing new here. Nothing. At all. Whatsoever. 2 stars
4/03/07 Not buying into the story! Previously nice guy, attacked by mad flock of ravens, hallucinates & turns into monster 2 stars
3/30/07 Mike I felt like I was watching the grudge. Only scary cuz of sound effects. Sucked a floppy one 2 stars
2/15/07 Axel Leos This movie is not bad, and there are worser movies MIKE HAYNE, its alright 4 stars
2/10/07 Fred Holmes Looks good to me. 4 stars
2/04/07 Shobert The Pangs have directed NOTHING but disappointments. 1 stars
2/04/07 steve owen get out of my sunflowers!!!!!!! 1 stars
2/03/07 juan diego muñoz villarreal 4 stars
2/02/07 Mike Hayne Worst movie I've EVER seen. Walked out while guy was getting pitchforked. Who cared? 1 stars
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  02-Feb-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Jun-2007

  06-Apr-2007 (15)
  DVD: 13-Aug-2007

  31-May-2007 (M)

Directed by
  Danny Pang
  Oxide Pang

Written by
  Mark Wheaton

  Kristen Stewart
  Dylan McDermott
  Penelope Ann Miller
  John Corbett

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