Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Messengers |
Actors: Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, Kristen Stewart, John Corbett, Evan Turner
Directors: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang Chun
Genres: Drama, Horror
Desperate for a fresh start after a tough two years in Chicago, the Solomon family retreats to a desolate sunflower farm in North Dakota. But the calm of farm life is shattered when 16-year-old Jess (Kristen Stewart) and h... more »
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It was a'right
SereneNight | California, USA | 07/29/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This PG-13 mess is what happens when you try to make a horror film for a general audience. Basically what its about, is a small family who moves to North Dakota to start over. They move into a very creepy farmhouse (seriously a coat of paint would do wonders for the place), and the father sets about growing sunflowers. The father is attacked by crows and befriends a drifter who becomes a hired hand. Soon, the teen daughter begins to see ghosts, and the house's original occupants make their displeasure known.
It started off okay, but I'm a bit bored with 'the grudge-style' ghosties. The creepy little kid ghost crawls around the house got a bit boring.The teen girl is an unsympathetic young thing who we are supposed to feel sorry for, but quite simply don't. the handyman was the only interesting character.
One thing I dislike in modern horror films is how murderous the ghosts are. There was no reason for the ghosts to try to attack and kill anyone. They hadn't done anything. I just don't buy homicidal child ghosts when the children weren't homicidal in life. Meh. 3 stars. Average pg-13 fair. Nothing to see here, folks."
Great Atmospheric Horror Movie With A Real Creepy Vibe
Stephen B. O'Blenis | Nova Scotia, Canada | 03/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most people have probably heard of the idea that babies and young children can see and hear things that older people can't, or have lost the ability to. That a baby in a crib gurgling and laughing at the ceiling, for example, is actually talking to a spirit there. It's a fascinating premise, whose application to a horror movie is a stroke of genius.
In "The Messengers" a family moves into an old farmhouse where something very bad once happened. Only Ben, the little toddler of the family, can see the supernatural prescences in the house, and he appears more delighted with them than afraid. When his teenage sister Jess also starts encountering unusual occurences - this time of an apparantly non-benevolent nature - she also begins noticing Ben's unusual behavior as well and realizes that he too is experiencing something out of the ordinary; the hard part after that is getting anybody else to take her seriously. The movie utilizes much more atmosphere than action, and the cast has to carry off a lot the show by reacting to very subtle (Most of the time), slow-paced, occurences, in a way that makes it feel real and frightening. The actors and actresses were well picked for their parts, and Kristen Stewart as Jess and twins Evan and Theodore Turner as Ben, playing the characters who experience most of the strangeness in the movie's early, slower-going, parts, are especially impressive. All the production values necessary to make this kind of atmosphere work - the light and shadows, the subtle use of sounds, the camerawork, etc. - are all handled very well too.
In the last one third or so of the movie, as things start to speed up and secrets come to light, I guess you could say that there were too broad directions it could have gone in, that it had to choose from. Myself, I would have chosen the route the movie didn't take, but it handles the path it chooses so well that it avoids slumping into a letdown. (I am still curious, though, what it would have been like if they had gone that other way) It's worth noting that when it ended I was rather taken aback that it was over so quick. Its running time is something like 85 minutes, but it felt like it came it at under an hour - and that's even in light of the slowly building pace it maintained. It must have been doing something pretty right to make time fly like that (on the other hand, I've seen other movies of about the same length that seem to drag on for hours). "Messengers" could have actually been quite a bit longer without hurting itself one bit; and as good as the ending turned out to be it may have been even better if it had gone on that different turn, but there's no point in complaining with something this good. Highly, highly recommended for fans of "Dark Water", "The Eye", "Haunted", "The Sixth Sense", "Pan's Labyrinth" and other atmospheric horror movies. "Red Rover" is another, far less known, movie that also fits great in this vein that you might want to check out."
Ashley Quinn | IL United States | 03/07/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is very blah. Okay, maybe it's not quite blah in the beginning, you may actually be somewhat thrilled, you may clutch your seat a little bit in the theater, your heart might pound, but once it comes down to it, you'll be disappointed. Most horror movies are like this today. Nothing's original in the horror genre anymore. What's good about this movie are the performances. I'll give it that. Plus that little boy is adorable. What's not to like when the mom asks, "What do they look like?" and he pulls his eyelids down? That's cute. Come on.
Here we have a family that moves into a super creepy house so they can live happily and plant sunflowers. The teenage daughter is a bit of a troublemaker, and it's revealed halfway in that she seriously screwed up at one point and is part of the reason they moved in the first place. The movie begins, however, with a different family being murdered by what appears to be shadowy, ghosty figures in the house the new family moves into. The girl keeps seeing things, and so does her little brother. No one else, apparently, notices these things, these scary creatures that crawl on the ceiling or lurk under the sheets. Then John Corbett comes and is all like Grizzly Adams and Mr. Handyman. He's important. Keep him in mind. So whatever happened to that family that used to live there? Why are the haunting her? Why can no one else see them? Is she nuts?
You'll see. That's all I say. No matter what I say, if you want to see this movie, you'll see it. And I say, go for it. It's not bad, but it's not great either. It's decent for a thrill, but short on character and relly short on the scare-factor at the end."
House of 1,000 Cliches
Chris Pandolfi | Los Angeles, CA | 02/02/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Chances are you've seen a movie like "The Messengers" before; it's a ghost story that makes use of a cinematic setting I call The House that Something Bad Happened In. A few years after this Something Bad happens, spirits make their presence known to the new family that has moved in. If I hadn't already mentioned the title, you might have thought I was just describing the plot of about a dozen other Haunted House films. Unfortunately, you'd be right; "The Messengers" is a completely unoriginal film, recycling every ghost story cliche imaginable. We have the dilapidated, deserted house that has just been sold. We have the long, drawn out shots of characters walking down dark hallways. We have the pop out scares (boy, do we ever). We have ghosts that are sending a warning. And yes, we have the back-story of a murdered family.
But despite the fact that I'm not recommending it, I can't call it a bad movie. This is because, stylistically speaking, it gets everything right. The moments encased in darkness are effectively tense, first by building on and then confirming what we think is going to happen (after a false alarm, of course). The scenes featuring the ghosts only have quick shots, showing enough to be frightening while at the same time keeping their appearances low key. And of course there's the musical score, appropriately combining an eerie children's choir, screeching violin solos, and deep brass undertones. Joseph LoDuca's music for "The Messengers" is a cross between Danny Elfman's scores for "The Frighteners" and "Sleepy Hollow," something that initially bothered me until I realized that such films always use the same musical motifs.
That being said, the plot is nothing more than a rehash, borrowing little bits from films like "The Haunting," "House on Haunted Hill," "Poltergeist," "Dark Water," "The Grudge," "The Ammityville Horror," "Ghost Story," etc., etc. It can't be a good sign when you can predict the ending only ten minutes into the film: by then, you begin to wonder what the point was in creating the story at all. To say that I wanted an original story would be unfair, considering the very nature of ghost stories is formulaic. But I will say that I wanted an old story presented in a new way, which I don't think was too much to ask for. I also would have liked it if the ad campaign had veered away from statements regarding children witnessing paranormal activity; yes, this idea is utilized for the film, but it's not the sole focus of the plot.
And what of the plot? Let's see if I can sum it up in one paragraph: a family from urban Chicago moves to rural North Dakota after some emotional and financial strain. The teenage daughter, Jess (Kristen Stewart) is having a hard time dealing with her parents--Roy (Dylan McDermott) and Denise (Penelope Ann Miller)--because of her past bad behavior. Her infant brother, Ben (Evan and Theodore Turner) is no longer speaking. Their moving to a farm will hopefully reunite the family and get Roy back on his feet (by planting and harvesting sunflowers). But as soon as they arrive, Ben wanders around aimlessly, pointing at nothing, giggling at things unseen. Jess thinks nothing of it until the house exhibits poltergeist activity; furniture and appliances fly around the rooms, and she's almost dragged into the cellar by pale, rotted hands. This sets into motion Jess' futile attempts at getting her parents to believe her. It also sets into motion her mission to discover what happened to the house's former occupants.
Doesn't sound too enticing a film, does it? What makes the film even worse is the slew of other cliched ghost story elements. For one, ominous flocks of crows are prominently featured, with shots taken directly from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." Furthermore, there's one room in the house--the cellar--that initially remains locked, only to later be revealed as the source of the paranormal activity. There's also a mysterious item--a toy tractor--that appears out of nowhere and becomes Ben's favorite possession. The farm assistant, Burwell (John Corbett), is enigmatic and somehow ... well, he's a little off. And then there's Ben himself, who's nothing more than a reinterpretation of the Special Child caricature. More than a couple of horror stories make use of this caricature, pretty much to the point of mandatory inclusion. (Can we say "The Shining"? "Rose Red"? "The Sixth Sense"?) Why is it always the creepy child that's special? Why not the creepy mailman? Or the creepy brother-in-law?
To be fair, part of me did enjoy "The Messengers." I definitely liked the film's look, and the ghastly makeup effects were effective. But the way a film looks isn't enough for it to be satisfying; this might have been achieved had the filmmakers opted for an original idea. True, the story would be incredibly different, but at least I'd be able to leave the theater knowing that some effort had gone into crafting a unique film. I can't give that kind of credit to "The Messengers," and I'm sure no one who sees it will be able to, either."