Pros: Great cinematography; several strong performances.
Cons: Muddied and unclear story line about what the threat is and what it can do.
The Messengers (2007) Directed by Oxide and Danny Pang
"You see them too... don't you?" Jess Solomon
In a creepy black and white sequence, we see a picturesque farm turned into a scene of carnage as something stalks a farm family. The son (?) is the last to die.
The Solomon family is seeking a new start. Father Roy (Dylan McDermott) has bought a farm in South Dakota . Mom Denise (Penelope Ann Miller) is supportive, and tries to jolly everything along. Son Ben (Evan and Theodore Turner) are cool with it, because he is about four. Daughter Jess (Kristen Stewart) is the problem; at sixteen, she is being torn from her old life, her school and her friends. However, even though you can tell she is less than happy, she is not as whiney as most teens in the same situation; there is something we don't know yet.
Guess which farm they have bought?
Jess of course has the most trouble settling in. Mom is cleaning, Dad has farm equipment to salvage, and Ben is entertained by things only he can see. However, she receives some nice invitations from the local wildlife (Bobby, played by Dustin Milligan) "If you ever get tired of hanging out doing nothing, you can come hang out and do nothing in a different place with us."
Roy 's life looks up when he gains the very economical assistance of Burwell, (John Corbett) a wandering farm hand who knows a lot about running a farm.
However, it is Ben who sees the problem...literally. There are things in the house, people who hide in the shadows, and creep along the ceilings. And only Ben, an innocent, can see them.
However, they make their presence felt to Jess, and no one else, which makes her seem crazy. Ben can't even corroborate her story, because Ben is mute. And somehow, it is Jess' fault. So now Jess looks like a disturbed teen trying to manipulate her family into returning to their old life.
However, Jess is certain that something evil lurks at their farm, and as it becomes bolder, controlling the local crows and throwing things around the house when it is just Jess.
Can Jess figure this out? Can she protect her family from what ever force murdered the Rollins' family? Or will they lock her away in a loony bin?
This story has some good elements to it. There is a strong but simple plot line, and the cast is strong, particularly McDermott and Corbett. The scenery is wonderful, the sunflowers making a homey backdrop for the terror. However, it just does not work on the big picture. One thing that is a problem is they use three different "monsters" there are ghosts, who we only see through Ben's eyes. They are black and white apparitions stolen from the Grudge of the Ring, or any other Japanese Ghost story in recent memory. Then there are the poltergeist activities. Simple things being thrown around, slamming doors, very much in the style of Poltergeist. You don't see anything, just the effects, which can vanish back to normal instantly if someone else walks in. Then there are the crows. They mass and attack with a Hitchcockian flair.
That is three terror flavors that do not necessarily taste great together. And there were no great surprises; this movie lacked a twist to make it unique and special. Instead, it is just a retread of what has been done before, and done better.