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The Messengers

For a film that has been heavily criticized, the producers at Sony, who spent only fifteen million on the budget, did well to bring in fourteen million in the first weekend. Not only that, but Messengers topped all box office sales on Super Bowl weekend.

Most of the audience was probably too young to have seen some of the other movies, The Shining and Amityville Horror, that Messengers borrowed from anyway. Or maybe they just didn’t care.

The experience was much as I once heard tourists fresh from a road trip to Scotland describe, “First we thought we were in Switzerland, then Wyoming and then we were back in Scotland again.”

What did work well was the artful cinematography of David Geddes who managed to find a keenly angled shaft of light at every turn. The rickety old barn allowed in as much light as a shred of old lace. Also delightful was Kirsten Stewart, the teenaged female protagonist nobody believed when she said she had seen a ghost. Of course, we all know that children are much more in tune with the supernatural than adults are.

As in an episode from Goosebumps, Jess Solomon (Kirsten Stewart) finds herself in North Dakota, being driven towards an isolated farm, complete with a rusty windmill and a flock of crows, by her parents who feel that the change of scene from her delinquent pals back in Chicago will be good for her. If that isn’t bad enough, her parents, Roy and Denise (Dylan McDermott and Penelope Ann Miller), hire Burwell (John Corbett), the first longhaired shifty stranger who wanders by, as the new farmhand. Anyone in their right mind could tell at a glance that this house is haunted, but when her parents drive into town and leave Jess in charge of her little brother Ben, with suspicious Burwell there to protect them, the ghost rattles the floors, throws the furniture around, and beckons out of the walls. We soon learn that when Ben points his ominous little finger, beautifully backlit, he sees one of messengers from beyond.

Exasperated by her non-believing parents, Jess figures out where the ghost lives and makes one courageous, if doomed, attempt to befriend it. Creepiest of all is Burwell, ultimately more dangerous because he is flesh and blood.

The Messengers
Release Date: February 2, 2007
Run Time: 1hr. 30min.
Rating: PG13: Mature thematic material,
Disturbing violence and terror.
Genre: Horror/fantasy.
Cast: John Corbett, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller,
Kirsten Stewart.
Directors: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang Chun
Stars: 3.
Playing at Cinemark Tinseltown

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