Reel Rewind – The Messengers

The Messengers (M)

Directed by: Oxide Pang Chung, Danny Pang

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller

One star

Review by Julian Wright

This haunted house film is destined to live a short life at the cinema. Not only will it be edged off the screens by blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and Shrek 3, but it is basically a direct to DVD bore-fest that got lost along the way to the shelves of your local video shop and somehow ended up in multiplexes.

After the Solomon family experience some tough times in Chicago, they decide to turn over a new leaf by buying a run down farm in North Dakota to grow sunflowers. Troubled teenager Jessica (Kristen Stewart) is obviously not too impressed with having to leave all her friends behind and live in a house where her mobile phone doesn’t get a signal, but she soon begins experiencing some supernatural goings-on. Of course no one believes her and so after a nasty attack while home alone with her baby brother, she begins to investigate the history of the house and discovers the past owners didn’t just “up and leave” like the townspeople suspected.

messengers1

Sometimes it can be fun to settle down in a dark cinema and allow yourself to be manipulated by an old-fashioned haunted house flick, but it is hard to keep an interest in a film that relies so heavily on creaky floorboards to scare an audience like it’s a new filmmaking technique. It is as if the writer and directors went down a list of haunted house movie clichés and decided to cram them all into this dull film. In fact you might have more fun trying to keep count of all the clichés than paying attention to the flimsy plot.

The plot is so thin and familiar that you would think the writers might have jacked up some character development but we don’t even discover the reason for the family’s relocation until way past the halfway mark and by that time you couldn’t possibly care any less. Luckily co-producer Sam Raimi is enjoying such huge success with the Spiderman franchise because if his career was based solely on turkeys like this he would be in big trouble.

As appeared in Examiner Newspapers, 2007.

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