The Messengers (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Pang Brothers|
|Screenplay by||Mark Wheaton|
|Story by||Todd Farmer|
|Music by||Joseph LoDuca|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$55 million|
The Messengers is a 2007 Canadian-American supernatural horror film directed by the Pang Brothers, and produced by Sam Raimi. It stars Kristen Stewart, John Corbett, William B. Davis, Dylan McDermott, Carter Kolbeck and Penelope Ann Miller. The film is about an ominous darkness that invades a seemingly serene sunflower farm in North Dakota, and the Solomon family—the owners of the farm—who are torn apart by suspicion, mayhem, and murder.
The film was released on February 2, 2007, and the DVD was released on June 5, 2007. Filming took place in the Qu'Appelle Valley near the small community of Abernethy, Saskatchewan, Canada. The graphic novel adaptation was published in January 2007 by Dark Horse Comics, written by Jason Hall, and illustrated by Kelley Jones. The prequel, Messengers 2: The Scarecrow, was released in 2009.
A terrified mother and her young son are packing to flee when an unseen attacker kills the whole family.
Five years later, the Solomon family from Chicago moves into the house, near a small town in North Dakota. Roy Solomon hopes to start a sunflower farm. Everyone has issues. Their teenage daughter, Jess, is unhappy about moving, their son Ben has been traumatized ever since a car accident when Jess drove while drunk with him as a toddler, and crashed the car. Seriously injured, Ben endures extensive treatment, recovering only to be mute. Her parents, Roy and Denise, don't trust their irresponsible daughter, and are broke from all the medical expenses. Roy believes moving to the farm will help heal the family.
Ominous events begin to occur. Flocks of crows are constantly swarming the home. Some attack Roy but are driven off by a drifter named John Burwell, whom Roy hires as a farmhand. Ben can see ghosts of the mother and the children. In the night, Jess sees Ben walking into the barn, and follows him. When the doors slam shut, Jess flees to the house but steps into a quicksand-type mud pit, sinking until she is up to her neck, clawing to get free. She wakes thinking it was a dream, until lifting her blanket confirms that it was real.
Jess goes into town with Bobby to investigate the house's background. She discovers that the previous family left suddenly five years ago. Jess has her doubts and guesses something terrible happened to them. At a local store, she sees a newspaper clipping of the family, revealing the father to be none other than her dad's new farmhand. Burwell is actually John Rollins, the man who, in a fit of madness, murdered his entire family (as shown at the beginning of the film). Shocked, Jess and Bobby rush back home to warn her family.
Denise is in the basement when John attacks her. She attempts to run upstairs but John grabs her ankle as Bobby and Jess arrive, only for John to knock Bobby out. Jess runs into the cellar finding Denise and Ben. Denise is sorry for not believing her about the ghosts. John, believing them to be his own family, stabs Roy when he turns up. After a struggle with Jess, John drags her down to the basement into the mud with him. As she goes under, an injured Roy grabs her hand and with Denise's help, pulls her out.
Alerted by Bobby, police and paramedics arrive shortly after. As her dad is put in the ambulance, he apologizes to Jess. Awhile after, everything returns to normal and their happiness is restored: the crows no longer attack, ghosts stop appearing, and Ben starts talking again.
- Kristen Stewart as Jessica "Jess" Solomon
- Dylan McDermott as Roy Solomon
- Penelope Ann Miller as Denise Solomon
- John Corbett as John Burwell/John Rollins
- Evan and Theodore Turner as Ben Solomon
- William B. Davis as Colby Price
- Brent Briscoe as Plume
- Dustin Milligan as Bobby
- Jodelle Ferland as Michael Rollins
- Michael Daingerfield as Police Officer
- Tatiana Maslany as Lindsay Rollins
- Shirley McQueen as Mary Rollins
- Kieria Robinson as Katy Turner
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Ravens were used in the movie, not crows, however the characters say "crows" in the film. The production team could not obtain trained crows required for certain scenes.
The film began life as an original script called The Scarecrow by Todd Farmer. It was originally written as a psychological thriller as opposed to a more supernatural horror film. It was about a family on a farm suffering from financial problems and bad weather seasons. When the patriarch puts up a strange scarecrow out in the field, things start to change. But then people start to get killed, and the main character suspects the scarecrow. By the end, the main character is revealed actually to have caused the killings himself.
The script was sold to Revolution Studios. Director Patrick Lussier signed on to the film, and put a supernatural flair into the story. Revolution then brought in Stuart Beattie to rewrite the script. "What I pitched was 'the horror version of A Beautiful Mind,'" said Farmer, "and what they wanted was 'The Shining on a farm.'" Revolution then sold it to Ghost House Pictures, who then took it and hired Mark Wheaton to rewrite it. None of the original script survived through the rewrites, besides the farm setting, and character names.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 12% based on 84 reviews and an average rating of 3.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Messengers is an atmospheric but derivative rip-off of countless other horror movies." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 34 out of 100 based on 16 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C–" on an A+ to F scale.
Film critic Nigel Floyd wrote in Time Out, "many of the images feel over-familiar, and the shocks a mite too forced." IGN Movies wrote in its review, "It's The Grudge on a farm," and concluded, "The problem with The Messengers is that it simply doesn't offer up much of anything new." Lou Lumenick wrote in the New York Post that the films was "nicely photographed but slow-moving, dull, and utterly predictable."  Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club wrote that the film was "technically proficient enough to deliver the requisite jolts, but déjà vu haunts the film as surely as its pasty-faced, hitch-stepped ghoulies, and it's hard to shake the impression that we've seen this movie before." Writing for the site Reel Views, James Berardinelli wrote that "The Messengers borrows so heavily from (other horror movies) that it has no room left for anything of its own.
A comic version of the film was published by Dark Horse Comics in January 2007.
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