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Movie Review

The Messengers

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, disturbing violence and terror

Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Fantasy, Thriller, Horror
1 hr. 24 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 2, 2007
Featuring: Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett
Director: Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang
Producer: Joe Drake, Nathan Kahane, William Sherak
Distributor: Sony Pictures

“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

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—The message I recieve from this movie was that we all need help sometimes. That is one reason why God gave us friends and family to love and to help one another out. Yes, I’m aware that most Christians won’t approve of this movie, but remember “all have sinned,” meaning were all sinners. So I would expect a lot of movies with sin in them. That doesn’t stop God from sending His message through a movie. Remember, not all movies come from God. …This movie shows Love from family and strangers.
1. The main girl didn’t runaway from her family but stood home to check out the ghost.
2. The father cared for the boy who was a stranger as you can tell when he gets hit in the head then the father saw him on the floor.
3. The boy went along with the girl to help her.
4. The boy and girl stood friends. The parents didn’t care.
5. The boy was scared. That shows there’s nothing wrong with a boy being scared. It’s funny how the world says “Men shouldn’t be scared,” 'women are scared to watch horror movies so it’s good to take your girlfriend to a horror flick so she can get close to you' or 'he’s a girl cause he’s scared of that movie'. Remember the bible says were all equal. The bible also says “None” of us should have fear, but only fear God. That says that even women shouldn’t be scared. Men don’t worry cause women also should be fearless not just us men. Men also need protection.
6. I’m aware that the Dad wanted to get the boy’s phone number for his daugther, which I know is wrong but that shows that even girls look for guys. That shows that “Not” all guys search for girls. Remember the Bible says all has sinned. That means girls are just like us guys. I also believe that even if his son was to look for a girl, I don’t think the dad would be like those kind of guys that are lusting over girls, so they let there son have a girlfriend. I got this impression from that fact that he let his daughter have a boyfriend by saying 'I’ll get his number for you'. Just keep in mind that girls also sin.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Justin Santos, age 19
Positive—…this movie was very good very good story line. Not scary at all. It’s worth renting. Sure there were a few jumps but that’s it. All and all it deserves more than 2 stars!!!…
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4
—Renee, age 34
Neutral—I would not recommend this for teens under at 14.
My Ratings: Average / 2½
—Tom, age 38
Neutral—My 13 year old daughter talked me into seeing this movie with her—I’m not a fan of terror films. There were several parts that made me jump, and there was the expected feel of evil lurking in the family’s home, but there were only a few swear words and nothing sexual. My daughter was disappointed, and I didn’t like it for the sheer fact that it was a terror movie. It was good for a few scares and won’t leave any lasting scars. :-)
My Ratings: Average / 3
—Christine, age 38
Negative—Having read the review, I took my husband to see this movie, but really was not prepared for the intense images and frightening scenes. I would NOT recommend it for young or even Christian viewers.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Ellen Kohut, age 52
Comments from young people
Positive—When I walked into the theater I was expecting to be holding on to my friends arm the entire time. It was not as scary as you think. There are a few jumpy parts, and the ghost or whatever it was supposed to be was freaky, but there was no reason someone my age couldn’t be allowed to see it. They say BS and the s-word and those were the only two things that would not be needed in the film. The movie itself was not as exciting as I thought it would be, but as far as being appropriate this movie is totally fine.
My Ratings: Average / 3
—Haley, age 14
Positive—This movie was the BEST. It was not scary at all. They said the (S)word, but only 2 times. I think that it is okay for everybody over 9 years old.
My Ratings: Good / 3½
—Matthew, age 11
Neutral—My friend… and I went to go see this movie, and this is what we thought from a Christian’s point on view. It wasn’t the best movie, but it wasn’t the worst, it had good Christian acting in it, the girl was not stuck up and mean to her parents, and she wasn’t mean to her little brother. The thing is that when people die they either go to Heaven or Hell, and the purpose of this movie was basically telling you that these “people” were still alive and mutated. My friend and I saw this at night, and we could NOT fall asleep, just thinging about it, but, overall, it was good, only a few cuss words, but nothing against God!
My Ratings: Good / 3½
—Kaitlin, age 12