Release Date: February 2nd by Screen Gems.
The Cast: Kirsten Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett, Evan Turner, Theodore Turner, William B. Davis, Brent Briscoe.
Directed by Oxide and Danny Pang.
BASIC PREMISE: The Solomon family moves from Chicago to a North Dakota farmhouse where Jess (Stewart), their teenage daughter, encounters ghosts.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Although not a remake or a sequel, The Messengers doesn’t have an original bone in its body nor does it serve up enough real chills. Much of the film feels like a rehash of The Grudge with the creepy-looking supernatural entities popping out of nowhere. Just like in the plot of the equally unsurprising film Cold Creek Manor, an average American family with two kids moves into a new home thinking everything will be alright until one of them witness something spooky. Dylan McDermott and Penelope Ann Miller play generic mother and father who doubt their daughter, Jess, has really seen a ghost. A mysterious rancher, Burwell, played by miscast John Corbett from My Big Fat Greek Wedding , shows up to help the family with their sunflower harvest. His agenda becomes clearer later on. Interestingly, Black Christmas, another silly horror film from last year, was miscast with Andrea Martin, another actor from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Is that some kind of signal or what? Hopefully, none of the other cast members from that movie will go through the same painful transition. Anyway, as Jess, Kristen Stewart, who was great playing off of Jodie Foster in Panic Room, doesn’t have much to do here other than react to her supernatural encounters. In a contrived subplot, she meets a nice boy who, of course, shows up at the right time to save her just when she needs him. The weak screenplay by Mark Wheaton doesn’t have enough surprises in stock, especially given the opening scenes which pretty much solve the mystery of what or who the ghosts actually are. These “messengers” aren’t very clear with their message, though, until the absurd, unimaginative third act. At least co-directors Oxide and Danny Pang (a.k.a. The Pang Brothers) skillfully create somewhat of an eerie atmosphere through camera angles, set design, lighting and sound effects which help to make this a mildly entertaining, although forgettable film.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: None is required or desired.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None, as long as you suspend your disbelief.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 4
IN A NUTSHELL: Atmospheric, but with an unimaginative plot lacking in thrills and chills.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD
The "M" Menu