Monday, June 18, 2007

DVD: The Messengers

• They're trying to tell you not to watch this movie.

Genre: Bad horror films
Director: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang
DVD released: June 5, 2007
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, John Corbett, Penelope Ann Miller, Evan Turner, William B. Davis, Dustin Milligan
Verdict: &1/2

The Pang brothers (sounds like a bad Gong Show act, doesn't it?) have one well-regarded Asian horror film on their resumes — The Eye — but you wouldn't know it from watching The Messengers, a standard modern shocker which feels like a pastiche of a thousand horror films that have come before: In one room of this old farmhouse, there's a stubborn stain on the wall, a la Dark Water (I'd call it a "menacing stain," but there's really nothing creepy about it); John Corbett (the radio announcer from Northern Exposure) gets pecked by crows, a la The Birds; the receptive children are saddled with disbelieving parents, a la An American Haunting; the decrepit old house is haunted by a terrible event, a la The Grudge; and something crawls on the ceiling (take your pick, but I'll go with The Exorcist III). To top it all off, as Dylan McDermott plays farmer, in walks The Smoking Man (William B. Davis) from The X-Files, reaching into his jacket pocket to pull out what the viewer can only expect to be a Morley cigarette but turns out to be a wad of papers — an offer to purchase the property (take it and run, people!). It's no fault of the wonderful William B. Davis, really, that his appearance pulls the viewer completely out of the moment (if anyone was actually in it). The Messengers has one flash of inspiration, and that is in setting — this old, cursed farm, where Dylan McDermott plants a field of fiery yellow sunflowers, is pleasing to the eye. The family, financially strapped because of an auto accident that left the toddler of the bunch unable to speak, has run away from hard times in Chicago and staked their financial future on a single crop. Come to think of it, that makes about as much sense as this movie, whose relentless use of bone-rattling booms from your subwoofer are a sure sign there's nothing else in it that will make you jump. // DVD notes // This stinker gets no less than seven featurettes; there's also commentary by cast and filmmakers.

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