Today we read from the Horror Movie Bible, chapter 13, verse 666: "When there are no Asian horror movies left to remake, Asian filmmakers will alight to Hollywood and create Americanized versions of The Ring, The Grudge and Dark Water and lo the PG-13 rating will be applied -- and it will be not good." But since The Messengers was written by a really cool horror geek named Mark Wheaton, I walked into an opening day matinee screening of the flick with some high hopes. Despite everything the TV spots, the trailers and the pre-release buzz had been telling me, I was actively intent on trying to enjoy The Messengers. Sorry to say that my pilot light of enthusiasm was snuffed out after less than twelve minutes of on-screen activity. This is a stunningly inert, painfully derivative, shamelessly cheap and aggressively dull ghost story that delivers nothing you haven't seen before. About 43 times.
Clocking in at a scant 84 minutes (and that's including a tiresome prologue and a lengthy opening credits sequence), The Messengers is The Grudge on a farm (The Grarm!) -- and it's about as thrilling as that description implies. It's about a family of four (Mom, Dad, Teenage Daughter, Mute Boy Toddler) who bail on Chicago in favor of Nowheresville, North Dakota. (Dad's got a bee in his bonnet about becoming a sunflower farmer, darnit, and nothing's gonna get in the way of that dream!) While Mom, Dad and Mute Toddler go about settling into their new home, teenage daughter has a problem; basically, she sees shadows, visions, apparitions, etc. -- and of course nobody believes her. (There's a ridiculously prolonged backstory about why Mom and Dad don't completely trust Teenage Daughter, but it's much too silly to get into at this point.)