Messengers, The (DVD)

The Messengers DVD (click for larger image)Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett, Evan Turner

Directed by Danny and Oxide Pang

Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Pang Brothers. I’m thinking Danny and Oxide should change their names to Hit and Miss. Why, you ask? Because that is the perfect description of their work. Best known for their Eye trilogy, the Brothers have been pumping out ghost stories with mixed results for the better part of the last ten years. While The Eye was a great film and even The Eye 2 served its purpose, it was the laughably bad The Eye 10 (review here) that nearly made me write the duo off completely. Here in the States J-Horror has just about run its course. Even Sirand, our resident foreign freak, is fed up with the twitchy chicks with long black hair. What was once a breath of fresh air from the Far East has now become soured by the stench of cliché. So what’s a pair of filmmakers looking to cash in on a passing craze to do? Simple! Head to America and make their latest spook-fest specifically for Western audiences. Enter The Messengers. A film that is — you guessed it — hit and miss.

The Messengers DVD (click for larger image)Sixteen-year-old Jess (Stewart) is a bit of a problem child. After a couple of rough years in Chi-town, her family packs up and heads to North Dakota to become — hold on to your asses — sunflower farmers(!). Well, I guess someone’s gotta do it, right? Upon reaching their new dwelling place, Jess discovers that they are not alone. Living with her parents and her little brother are some pretty nasty spirits and a murder of crows. Of course her folks assume that she’s just acting out again so they dismiss her rantings as a cry for attention. Luckily for Jess, her brother can see the ghosties too, but the poor kid can’t speak so she can’t even get her story corroborated. Hell, at least she knows she’s not crazy. Things quickly get out of hand, and before you know it, the entire family is taking on the evil in the home as one unit while screaming their heads off on the road to a twist ending, which, I must admit, I didn’t see coming.

All in all, aside from some strange plot choices (read: sunflower farming(!) being the profession of choice) The Messengers does just fine in the story department. More importantly the ghosts do their jobs well enough when it comes to delivering the creeps. There were more than a couple of that’s fucked-up moments that had me grinning with goosebumps.

The Messengers DVD (click for larger image)So where did this little film go wrong aside from the ghosts being damned near completely absent during the movie’s finale? The answer is simple. With the influx of Asian horror hitting these shores at a truly fast and furious pace, we’ve seen all these gags before. The floating spectres, the twitching bodies, the stuttering crawling type movements, the discolored clutching hands reaching out to hold their victims at bay — talk about déjà vu. Still, even with all these familiarities, The Messengers does have a few inspired moments. At least this time no one was farting to keep away the spirits (a less than inspired scene from The Eye 10). Thanks for leaving that gag out, Pangs! Go you!

On the supplemental side of the sunflower farm(!), we have a pretty standard package. All that’s here is a cast and crew commentary that, just like the film itself, feels very hit or…. fuck you I’m not gonna say it a third time. You know what I mean. From there we have a series of seven featurettes entitled Examining The Messengers that doles out the standard making-of stuff we’ve all come to expect. Again, nothing to write home about.

Maybe it’s time to just hang up the old long-haired black wig. We’re ready for and need something new. Something that can spark the imagination and make the mind’s floorboards creak with the type of dread that we crave in a good ghost story.

Sorry, guys, but this is just a case of the message getting here too damned late.

Special Features
Cast and crew commentary
Examining The Messengers seven-part behind-the-scenes featurette(s)


2 1/2 out of 5

Special Features

2 1/2 out of 5

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

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