Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Norman Reedus, Heather Stephens, Richard Riehle, Darcy Fowers
Directed by Martin Barnewitz
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Let me state up front that I have never seen The Messengers. You might be wondering why a guy who never saw the original is reviewing the sequel. That’s because no one at Dread Central who saw the original had any interest in sitting through a direct-to-DVD sequel so they pawned the screener off onto me.
I’m of the impression that Messengers 2: The Scarecrow is meant to be a prequel. In a rarity for the direct-to-DVD sequel/prequel genre, original Messengers scripter Todd Farmer (Jason X, My Bloody Valentine 3-D) wrote this follow-up as well, though from what I’ve read online, the script for this prequel is actually what he originally had in mind for the first film before it got massively rewritten. The original as I understand was more of a ghost film. Not so much this time around. Messengers 2: The Scarecrow is another one of those horror movies about a down-on-his-luck character who obtains a mysterious object that begins to change his luck but with dangerous consequences.
Downtrodden farmer John Rollins is a pious man who has begun to lose his faith, he is about to lose his farm, crows are ruining his corn crop, and his marriage is beginning to fall apart as well. When he breaks out an old scarecrow in his barn to deal with his cornfield’s crow problem, his young son gets one look at the thing and declares it “bad” and spends almost every other scene he’s in begging his father to get rid of it. John cannot understand his son’s reaction even though it’s the most hellish looking scarecrow I’ve ever seen. Crows aren’t the only things this melted demon head scarecrow could frighten off. The scarecrow on the artwork doesn’t look anywhere near as alien as the one actually seen in the film.
Now, after a first act that appeared to be striving for more of an American Gothic mood piece, around the 25-minute mark the whole movie dives head first into b-movie goofiness. John wakes up to find the entire flock of crows dead. This does not puzzle him. This does not concern him. He is in no way curious as to why. He just picks up all the dead birds and writes it off as a sign that his luck is changing. Then a hot blonde walking down the dirt road he’s never seen before begins pouring her water bottle down her dress and strips naked in his cornfield sprinklers, lovingly washing her heaving breasts as if she were posing for a farmer’s daughter Playboy video segment. The sight of this makes John so horny he rushes inside to have vigorous sex with the wife. That night the banker trying to get John to sell his farm wanders into the cornfield, gets freaked out by weird noises, and stumbles right out into the path of a speeding 18-wheeler. All of this plays out in barely a five-minute stretch of film.
Anytime John meets with his new Wilford Brimley look-a-like neighbor, the guy constantly gives him the sort of cryptically selfish advice you’d expect to hear from a cartoon devil sitting on your shoulder. That hot naked blonde turns out to be the new neighbor’s wife. When this nubile young thing with the perfect body tells him she’s married to the tubby old man, John no more bats an eye than he did at the sight of all the dead crows.
Part of me is tempted to describe Messengers 2: The Scarecrow as a Children of the Corn sequel that leaves out the children. Another part of me wants to call it a feature-length episode of “Friday the 13th: The Series”. One thing is for certain; it’s a decidedly mixed bag. The sillier scenes possess a b-movie liveliness missing from the quieter moments. The trade-off is these illogical moments make it impossible to take the more straightforward dramatic elements seriously. For better and for worse, Messengers 2: The Scarecrow is – dare I say it – corny.
I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this script also fell victim to studio interference. I couldn’t help but recognize a couple of the producer names in the credits as names I’ve also seen before in the opening credits of various Sci-Fi Channel original movies. That might explain why a film that looked towards the end to be building up to a variation of The Shining with the distressed patriarch of this farmland family coming unraveled instead culminates with him having to save his family from the evil scarecrow that abruptly comes to life and goes on a rampage.
2 1/2 out of 5
1 out of 5
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