Trivia Scout Taylor Compton (the new Laurie Strode) auditioned for the role of Jess.
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The Messengers (2007)
19th Aug 07
Roy Solomon moves his wife, troubled teenage daughter and infant son to a farm in North Dakota. The house is isolated in fields, dark and covered with creeping vines. It not only looks haunted, it downright is.
Roy’s children start to see ghosts, which seem to be trying to lure them into the basement to attack them. However, due to daughter Jess's troubled past and baby’s inability to speak, the adults don't believe them. Most sympathetic to the children is the mysterious labourer that probably has nothing to do with it at all, right? Jess has to find out what happened in this house to make it so haunted and convince her parents that they need to leave before it's too late.
The Pang Brothers are the latest Asian horror directors to be courted by Hollywood. The recent success of 'J-Horror' films has had a huge influence over American horror movies. Offering atmospheric ghost stories light on gore and violence means you can pass your film through with a lower age rating and generate those wonderful teenage box-office dollars. So, can involving the reputable directors of The Eye Trilogy in the otherwise unoriginal The Messengers reap positive results?
No, unfortunately. In fact, the look of this film is generic and completely without style. A slight sepia tint isn't enough over an entire feature film and each shot is done completely without ambition. Since we've already seen all of the cheap tricks this film has to offer before, the Pang Brothers offer us nothing else at all to enjoy in this soul-less, artless teen-horror-by-numbers.
The Messengers has a very simple plot and so needs some solid scares to keep our attention. It doesn't have any. Instead, what it has in abundance is a series of cheap tricks and baffling plot devices that are never explained. One such example of this is the inclusion of the evil crows. A fantastic idea, you might think. Why has no one thought of putting birds in a horror movie before? It's never explained why they are there although our attention is drawn to them repeatedly. Similarly, you may question the point of the old man in the suit who offers the buy the house from them. He's even included in a flashback and yet we are offered no explanation as to why.
Obviously, over-the-top scoring at inappropriate moments and sudden cuts are on hand to provide the jumps. This is handy, because we're not visually shown anything unsettling at all. In fact, while I'm aware it's an inconvenience, I'd have to question how recurring damp on a wall could prove quite so terrifying.
The acting in this film is horrible, as is often the case when you partner inexperienced actors with directors to whom English is not a first language. You will, however, be pleased to know that everyone is suitably pretty, the main family in particular look like they were ordered right out of a catalogue.
To not mention the positives of The Messengers would be unfair. For example, the ending to this film is so predictable that you can switch it off early and not worry about what happens at the end. Also, the film is bold enough to include some massive plot holes without even caring (such as why Roy Solomon offers to employ and house a man with his family when the only he knows about him is that he carries a loaded shotgun around). Finally, and perhaps the most positive aspect of this film, is its mercifully short run time of 84 minutes.
Perhaps I'm the wrong person to review The Messengers. At 24, I'm clearly twice the age of the target audience and, being male, I'm equipped with entirely the wrong set of genitals. However, if, like me, you dislike derivative horror packed with cheap scares and effects so dodgy you feel like you're watching an MTV promo for a Disneyland haunted house ride, then The Messengers isn’t the film for you.
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