In 2007, the Pang Brothers, whose The Eye was one of the spookiest ghost stories of recent memory, made their North American debut with The Messengers, a disappointingly ordinary tale of a haunted farm. Nobody asked for a sequel, to my knowledge, but here it is, apparently closer to writer Todd Farmer’s original story than the first film.
Norman Reedus is a down-on-his-luck farmer: his crops are being eaten by crows, his bills are becoming terminal, and his marriage is showing cracks. The first two problems turn around when, upon a mysterious neighbour’s advice, he sets up a scarecrow. Suddenly, everything and everyone who gets in his way comes to a sticky end. His relationship with his family doesn’t exactly improve, however, as he shows growing signs of going all Jack Torrance on their asses.
Reedus is certainly game for the part, but the script travels down very well-worn paths. The spookiness takes too long to get rolling, the climax is ridiculous, and one of the early Sinister Signs of Something Awry is a vision of sexual temptation so laughable in its execution it would make a Budweiser ad executive blush with shame.
A few of the night scenes are rather on the murky side, but most of the time the picture is perfectly clear. The colours are very natural, if a bit ordinary – the naturalism of the film’s look is handled well by the transfer, but the fact is that the film simply isn’t that interesting to look at. The image is sharp, though, and grain and edge enhancement aren’t problems. The aspect ratio is a pleasing 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.
All is well in this department, with a decently immersive environment, strong music, and zero distortion. The music is handled well, too. Like the audio, there isn’t really anything to knock one’s socks off – the sound design is professional but hardly terrifying – but there isn’t anything to object to, either.
Commentary track: Director Martin Barnewitz and writer Todd Farmer mutually interview each other to informative effect. They are both engaging and articulate, and one wishes their film had been a bit more exciting.
Ultimately, this is a professionally executed but mediocre exercise. Of course, one doesn’t expect much else from DTV sequels, but one lives in hope.