The Messengers 2: The Scarecrow Martin Barnewitz

There probably aren't many people out there who remember the original Messengers and its brief but relatively lucrative stay in theatres back in 2007. It was that PG-13 horror movie with Kristen Stewart and Penelope Ann Miller in a spooky cornfield. It was pretty crappy and certainly didn't warrant a sequel but as is the trend as of late, a prequel emerged for the DVD market with Norman Reedus, awkward religious overtones and unnecessarily gratuitous nudity stepping things up to an R-rating. Taking place on the same farm as the original, part two follows John Rollins (Reedus), a recovering alcoholic and man of the Lord (of course), as he struggles with his marriage to Mary (Heather Stephens), his dying crops and a depleted bank account. Despite objections from his son, John puts up a mysterious scarecrow he finds in the barn, sparking a string of surprising good luck and convenient deaths. For the most part, The Messengers 2 focuses its energy on John Rollins' psychological state, dishing out a low-rent Shining that isn't entirely without merit. The thing is, it does so at the expense of other characters and the storyline, given that people disappear, are killed off-screen without full introductions and inexplicably show up in the cornfield to get naked and act like irrigation is an aphrodisiac. It's sloppy and handled with all the directorial panache of a Smallville episode, which incidentally seems to be where they got their farming knowledge and know how from. On the other hand, the film is a lot smarter than most straight-to-DVD entries, using religious mythology, false idols and worldly temptations to construct horror around material greed and wavering faith. This probably isn't what the target demographic for a film of this nature is looking for, however. Included with the DVD is a commentary track with writer Todd Farmer and director Martin Barnewitz discussing mainly the aforementioned psychology, along with production anecdotes. (Sony)