#270 -- The Messengers (2007)
Directors: Oxide Pang Chun & Danny Pang
The Messengers is a supernatural horror about a family that moves into a house with spirits trapped inside. It's a premise that we are all too familiar with, but we never seem to get tired of it, for some reason. The beginning of the movie shows us a girl and her little brother being attacked by an unseen force, which is done pretty well. It succeeds in drawing us in and making us interested, and it was a very nice start to the movie. It focuses on the Solomon family, who moved out to a farm to grow sunflowers, in hopes that it would solve their financial problems. The first of the family to notice the ghosts was the little boy, Ben. He never seemed to be afraid of them; he was only interested. When he was left alone with his big sister Jess (Kristen Stewart), the ghosts got a little rowdy and destroyed the entire house. They also tried to pull Jess down into the basement to do evil things to her. Of course, no one believed her story, because she was a trouble maker. Before they moved she got drunk and drove around with Ben in the car, which resulted in an accident that left him unable to speak. It's understandable why they don't trust her and treat her like a little child. It's also understandable that they don't believe a word that she says. Finally, of course, everyone else sees the ghosts, feels so sorry that they never believed her, and have to fight some spirits to survive the night.
The movie had its problems, but it had some things going for it as well. I watched it on Crackle, which said it could be compared to The Grudge and The Birds. The former, I guess, because of the angry spirits that crawled around on the ceiling. The latter because the farm was infested with crows that liked to attack people. I see where they got the comparisons, but I don't agree. While The Grudge was a genuinely spooky movie, this one just wasn't. I've never seen The Birds, but I'm sure Hitchcock wouldn't be happy about having one of his most beloved movies compared to this. The story was interesting enough, ending with a twist that was unexpected but kind of cheesy and predictable once you see it. It had to do with a man whose wife wanted to leave, and he killed his entire family in a fit of rage. His spirit can't discern the difference between his real family and those that move into the house, so he kills them all over again. It does have a few creepy parts, and a couple of suspenseful moments here and there, but it's not enough for me to be able to call it a great movie.
There are a lot of things that are left unexplained. Like who or what are the "messengers" and what message are they trying to relay? I never got the title, because there was not an explanation. Maybe the birds were the messengers, and they were trying to tell them to get away as fast as they could? Possibly, because they all scattered once the evil was defeated. Or maybe the ghosts (which were the ghosts of the family whose father killed them) themselves were the messengers, and they were trying to warn the Solomon family of the crazy man/spirit that was right under their noses. It left me with more questions than answers. I also had a problem with Kristen Stewart, as I always do. I'm not a fan of her acting, and I never will be. She is so dull and she hardly ever shows any emotion. Maybe once throughout a movie she'll show some sign of life, but it's never enough to make her character even remotely believable. She always seems entirely uncomfortable in her roles, and it makes things hard for me. I believe that, to create a successful horror movie, you must make the viewer able to believe that it's real, even though the events are implausible and we know that they are not real. It's impossible to make me believe anything when the lead actress looks like a statue. Throughout the movie, she keeps saying that she's so scared, but I never saw it. Maybe once did she look even a little bit frightened, but most of the time she either looked confused or constipated. The boy who played her little brother, who didn't speak a word until the very end of the movie, gave a more believable performance than she did. Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story) was wonderful, of course, and I didn't have any problems with him. Actually, I only had a problem with her, and she's one of the reasons that this movie just doesn't stand out for me.
Though it has an interesting, if not completely predictable, premise, the movie falls flat. It had some genuinely promising moments that it let die without any real results. It failed to be scary at all, or even creepy. It did have a few somewhat creepy moments, but it failed to be spooky as a whole. It wasn't altogether boring, though; it did keep me interested, if not just to see what the spirits were about and why exactly they were trapped in the house. But it in the end, it's just a so-so movie that didn't live up to the potential that it created for itself.