Monday, 28 September 2020
The Messengers
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Wednesday, 07 February 2007 00:00
The Messengers reminds me of one of those after-school-specials I used to watch in Elementary School. And if I was in Elementary School I may have actually found it scary. In those days I had one of those 8-hour VHS tapes on which I recorded every TV special there was about ghosts and the paranormal. But alas, those carefree days are over and I’m a cynical grown up who has to poke and prod at the ghost story instead of just enjoying it!

On the plus side The Messengers is a ghost story in its purest form. Unlike in other recent ghost movies, contact from beyond the grave isn’t made over a wireless connection or a long distance cell phone plan. You’ll witness everything from poltergeists to ectoplasm in the creepiest old house around.

The story is typical and involves a young family down on their luck. Mom and Dad decide to uproot the kids and move to the country to get back on their feet. The teenage daughter Jess (Kristen Stuart) isn’t very happy, but promises make the best of it for the sake of her baby brother. Dad (Dylan McDermott) claims to know about farming but when the time comes to plant he doesn’t seem to have a clue, so he hires a mysterious farm-hand to help him out.

Frightening things start happening and baby Ben seems to have made friends that no one else can see. He spends most of his time staring up at something that scuttles around on the ceiling, or chasing after toys that have a life of their own. The idea is that children are more susceptible to paranormal phenomena. They are more in tune to their “sixth sense”. Jess is still young enough that she knows something is wrong in the house and she has to put an end to it before something horrible happens.

Let’s be honest here. With the premise of The Amityville Horror, a plot stolen directly from The Grudge, and a bit of The Birds thrown in for good measure this movie doesn’t have one original idea to its name. Even the scare tactics are cliché - most of them being the kind that simply make you jump out of your seat because of a loud noise.

As far as the acting goes, most of it was way over the top. Especially the annoying mother (Penelope Ann Miller) who seemed not to pay any attention to her kids at all. More than once I found myself wondering who was watching the baby because all of the characters would be outside chatting, Ben presumably inside by himself. This is a case of the convenient child syndrome, which is to say a child only appears when it is convenient for him/her to be there. Wish real life were like that!

After all the cheap thrills The Messengers left me with one question. What is the message? Well, I’d like to leave you with a message of my own. Don’t bother with this one. I give The Messengers 4 out of 10.