The latest in a decades-long strand of cloned haunted house movies, The Messengers stars rising actress Kristen Stewart as a teenage girl who gets dragged to an old farmhouse with her family, only to discover that it is haunted by some pretty mean ghosts. Despite some decent acting and creepy looking ghosts, The Messengers fails to set itself apart from other films like it.
This little horror movie actually features a very recognizable cast, which includes Dylan McDermott ("The Practice") as the father, Penelope Anne Miller (Relic) as the mother and John Corbett ("Sex and the City") as the mysterious hired hand. Stewart, who is best known for her role in Panic Room, is the best of the group, however, as she brings a believably fierce attitude to the production that is otherwise pretty plain.
While the acting is good, the rest of the movie doesn't have too much going for it. It has a few scary moments, but for the most part things are as predictable as butter on toast. Jess (Stewart) is a troubled kid, so when she starts seeing strange visions, no one believes her. Pretty typical. Of course, she has the kind of parents who love her yet drag her away from her city life and her friends to some crumbling home in the middle of nowhere, and are seemingly naive to just how much of a crap hole they've acquired. As you might expect, the movie also explains why the ghosts are so bitter, which of course leads to a less-than-supernatural source of a villain (which is actually better than just ghosts).
The ending is pretty decent, though it would have been nice had the bad guy been developed a bit more. His switch from good to bad is rather sudden and never truly explained; a slower transition could have really helped the movie.
The other thing going for The Messengers is the makeup; the ghosts in the movie are truly creepy. Kudos to the makeup department for making some truly terrifying creatures.
Nevertheless, while The Messengers by no means is a disaster, it is still just a basic haunted house movie with nothing going above and beyond. If you are absolutely enamored with ghost movies, The Messengers might appeal to you, but for the rest of us, there are better horror movies out there.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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