Audiences looking for surprises will like The Messengers, and even those used to silent pauses before the scare will jump occasionally.
Overall, the idea of the movie is half original.
A family moves into a house with a sunflower farm in North Dakota that’s been abandoned for years and begins to experience paranormal phenomena.
The fact that the toddler sees it first is an interesting twist on the typical ghost story. The premise of the movie is that the younger the character, the more susceptible they are to the paranormal. Also, the special effects make the movements of the ghosts look The Ring-like and decently frightening.
Unfortunately, the parents’ acting is just as frightening. The movie fails by adding the typical teenager scene:
Teen: “You never understand me!” (runs away)
Dad: “Let her go…”
In a scary movie, a scene like this seems almost comical.
The teenager in question, Jess, constantly sees and is attacked by ghosts, while her parents believe she is lying and hurting herself. Audiences will question the realism of it all in the same way.
It seems odd to complain about a ghost story being unrealistic, but, ironically, the people are more unrealistic than the ghosts in this film.
After the first ghostly encounter, Jess is entirely and understandably terrified.
Despite this emotional trauma, she continues to seek out ghosts throughout the movie.
In one instance, Jess enters a barn outside of the house, and the door immediately closes behind her. Instead of trying to bust the door down with all her strength and screaming at the top of her lungs like any sane person would do (especially after experiencing paranormal phenomena), she chooses to look around the barn casually. She even decides to approach a huddled, dirty figure in the corner of the barn.
Even the densest of audience members are screaming, “NO!”
Despite the parents’ equally terrifying acting and Jess’ questionable survival instincts, the ending of the movie is a surprising twist that makes the cringing and questioning worth it.
Audiences who admire an unravelling of the truth at the end of a movie will enjoy the extreme twist of events in The Messengers. While the idea of a haunted house and a misunderstood teenager has been done before, the surprise waiting at the end of The Messengers makes it a more unique form of ghost horror.
It’s worth a buy if it’s on clearance at Rasputin or Amoeba stores; and if you are looking for something twisty and jumpy.
Audiences looking for something original in all aspects, gory and genuinely frightening without the “BOO!” scare tactics should thumb past The Messengers for a different movie.