Year Released: 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 84 minutes
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Before you even step forth in the theater, you should know what’s going to happen (if you’ve seen a poster or trailer, that is). Creepy kids, frenetic editing, jump-scares and a twist ending that will supposedly re-focus the perspective of the entire film. Much like a Hitchcock McGuffin, the smaller plot details are almost unnecessary. They’re just there because they have to be.
Couple Denise (Penelope Ann Miller) and Roy (Dylan McDermott) move out to start a sunflower farm in North Dakota with their two children, teenage Jess (“Panic Room’s” Kristen Stewart) and toddler Ben (Evan Turner and Theodore Turner). Ben is mute, an after-effect of a car accident caused by his big sister Jess during a night of teenage drinking. As the family settle into their new home, and the exciting world of sunflower farming, spooky things start happening as Ben and Jess start seeing and hearing supernatural phenomenon that Mom and Dad are unable to see or hear. Who’s trying to contact the kids? What are the intentions? Sunflower farming?
I’m taken back to a summer of my youth when I, requiring a summer job, found myself making money by removing sunflowers from my neighbors’ yards for a small fee. See, they’re the pests of the flower world, and they reproduce like nobody’s business, all over the freaking place. Why they would then require a farm, and what kind of business this farm could bring in, is a complete and total mystery to me*.
Back to the film, nothing about “The Messengers” is anything new. Sure, the Pang Brothers bring some nice cinematography to the table, but the story is so ridiculously obvious it’s not even remotely enjoyable. The film is called “The Messengers,” so let’s break down the context. Someone is going to deliver a message to someone. If “The Sixth Sense” taught me anything about the after-life, it’s that the majority of ghosts are scary and creepy, but really just want to help us or be helped (really needy, when you think about it). If they’re more creepy than usual, they’re trying to warn you about something. If it were going to be any more gruesome or devious, it wouldn’t be PG-13. Cue end twist.
The acting is as sub-level as you would imagine it. The kids (save the mute one) are all about “listen to me” shrieking when no one will, and the adults are as painfully oblivious as needed (sunflower farming does not scream intelligence either). And John Corbett’s in the film too, as a drifter farmhand that’s so sketchy he obviously is going to get hired immediately. Hmmm, wonder if that decision will come back and bite anyone in the ass?
Yeah, I’m not going to be able to find anything nice to say about this by-the-numbers PG-13 “horror” suck-fest, so let’s just end the review already. The only message “The Messengers” is able to successfully deliver is that it sucks, and if you needed to see the movie to find that out then, well, message delivered.
*Since posting this review, I’ve gotten an email informing me that sunflowers are a rich source of polyunsaturated oil, and are used for cooking oil and margarine.
Posted on February 4, 2007 in Reviews by Mark Bell
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