Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
|Featuring:||Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett|
|Director:||Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang|
|Producer:||Joe Drake, Nathan Kahane, William Sherak|
“There is evidence to suggest that children are highly susceptible to paranormal phenomena. They see what adults cannot. They believe what adults deny. And they are trying to warn us.”
The popularity of recent Japanese horror movies has clearly begun to influence Hollywood. It has also begun to renew the PG-13 rated horror flick and provide people with an alternative to slasher films. Some of these new horror films have been quite good, but others bring nothing new to the table and are best left shelved. So how does “The Messengers” fit into this?
“The Messengers” is an updating of the old haunted house stories. It is, in fact, a haunted farm house. A family moves into a house on a farm hoping to start life over after a tragic accident. Soon their seemingly disturbed daughter and their infant son begin to see terrible visions and become haunted by ghosts seeking revenge on all who inhabit the farm house. Enter into the picture a farm hand and many scenes clearly inspired by Japanese horror films.
Morally, this film is about as clean as modern day horror films get. There are two uses of the “s___” word and a “son of a b____.” Violence, however, is the real culprit, although that is relative to the genre. The only blood seen is in a violent crow attack, but it is implied that one man is pierced with a pitch fork. The real reason for the PG-13 rating is the horrifying and disfigured ghost images. These images are very unsettling for youngsters, so parents should definitely take the rating seriously.
Of course, from a Christian perspective, the entire ghost story is pagan. The spirits of the dead do not linger seeking revenge, but rather as the Bible says, “it is appointed for man to die once and then comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). When we die, we go to the Lord. The ghost story is clearly unbiblical, but most people who go to see this already know that, so just keep this in mind and make sure your children understand the true nature of the spiritual realm.
Cinematically, the film is a mixed bag. The ghost scenes are very effective and well done, obviously heavily influenced from Japanese horror films like “The Ring,” “The Grudge,” and “Pulse.” These scenes can make you squirm or jump from your seat, but, unfortunately, flaws in the script deter from the effectiveness of the horror scenes. The basic problem is the cliche ending. I will not give anything away, for those who haven’t seen many horror films may not see it coming, but I kept expecting Anthony Perkins to jump out with his mother’s dress on. The ending was simply far too predictable and actually seemed to conflict with the seeming nature of the ghosts' actions previously.
In short, “The Messengers” provides some good thrills, but the script lets us all down by bringing nothing really new to the table. The viewer is left with a standard haunted house story, mixed with some good Japanese horror images, and a cliche ending based on psychological stereotypes. Save your money at the theater and rent it on video.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: None