The Messengers Danny and Oxide Pang

The Messengers Danny and Oxide Pang
I’ll be the first person to admit that making a scary ghost movie isn’t easy. There hasn’t been a decent one since Gore Verbinski’s remake of The Ring and much like that film, most American enterprises have reverted to aping the visions of Hideo Nakata (Ringu) and Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On: The Grudge). To my surprise, the latest Hollywood supernatural horror flick is actually the work of the Pang Brothers (Oxide and Danny), the team responsible for The Eye series. That said, it’s no surprise that The Messengers, their first English language film, fails miserably. Set in rural America (actually Regina, SK), a family leaves the city for a large piece of farmland and a country house that, yes indeed, is haunted. As you’d expect, it’s not so simple: Panic Room’s Kristen Stewart is the troubled teenager that begins seeing ghosts and after a freak-out, to which there is no evidence of what she saw, her parents (Dylan McDermott and Penelope Ann Miller) bring up her troubled past and it’s passed off as a "cry wolf” moment. But the ghosts come back — they always do — and soon unleash their terror on everyone. Yawn. This really shouldn’t be yawn-inducing but Mark Wheaton’s screenplay uses possibly one of the flimsiest twists ever seen in a thriller, which involves the mysterious farmhand, played by Sex in the City’s John Corbett. Everything about this film is flimsy: the J-horror designed bone-crackling movements that have been done to death, the tired themes of reckless teenhood and of course, the back-story that is resolved in the end. The performances are wooden and really, the only impressive piece of casting is the three-year-old son, who doesn’t even say a word. As the commentary reveals, the original script was based on The Shining and had nothing about ghosts in it — enter the Pangs to throw a wrench into the plans and spread their poltergeist fetish over the possibility of seeing McDermott lose it on camera. It is fascinating to know that the 26 ravens portraying crows in the film were shipped in from the Czech Republic, but when that’s one of the more interesting things they have to say about their film, you know the cast and crew couldn’t possibly be proud of such work. Plus: featurette. (Sony)