Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Slacker than slack...
In which V. finally gets around to reviewing a film she saw, like, a week and a half ago.

So last Monday I went to the cinema to see The Messengers. This is an American horror film directed by the Pang Brothers, genuine masters of Asian horror cinema. They are best known for the Eye films (soon to be remade - and no doubt, heavily watered down - for American audiences). The Eye films are well made and very effectively creepy. If you haven't seen them (and I think only two out of my whopping five readers have) you really should. People need to be watching more foreign cinema anyway, instead of waiting for crappy English-langauge remakes. But I digress.

Most of the reviews for The Messengers have been glowing. Critics say this is a great film, and that it will scare you so bad you'll pee your pants.

Okay, this is technically a very good film. It is well filmed and well acted. Production values are through the roof. It's got a pretty good story and it takes the plot through to a satisfying conclusion. So what are my problems with it? In short, this is a composite of a lot of other great horror films. The catch is, it's a composite of a lot of great horror films that only about four people in the world have seen so this will probably still make most of you pee your pants. Unfortunately for me, I have seen those films. So I wasn't surprised or shocked by anything I saw. The Messengers was still a good film - it just wasn't scary for me.

Let's go into a bit more detail. Spoilers may be afoot, tread with caution.

1. The plot was strikingly similar to a fairly obscure Spanish film called Darkness. Let's compare. In both films, a troubled family moves into a creepy old house. House is haunted by one or more dead people. Dead people torment teenaged girl and her younger brother. Teenaged girl begs parents for help, parents ignore her. She confides in cute teenaged boy who puts himself in danger to help her. Chaos ensues. Crisis ends when horrible secret is discovered and all wrongs put right.

Yeah, I mean, that's a good story. But I've seen it before. Note: go watch Darkness. It's great. And it's in English, even though it's a Spanish film. Go figure.

2. Big creep-out moment number one: a creepy ghost scuttles along the ceiling like a spider or something. Yeah, okay. This scared the crap out of me when I saw it in The Exorcist 3. But now it's a case of "been there, done that." Try harder, Pang Brothers. I know you have it in you.

Note: If you haven't seen The Exorcist 3, you really should. It doesn't really have anything at all to do with the other four Exorcist films, and the creepiness is subtle but intense. Highly recommended.

3. Big creep-out moment number two: a dead person is floating along, feet hovering a few inches above the floor. He/she/it is gliding slowly towards someone whose back is turned. Person is aware of dead thing, but is afraid to turn around. This causes tension. This scared the crap out of me when it was the elevator scene in The Eye (and was about ten minutes shorter. I mean, geez). Pang Brothers, what were you thinking? You've ripped off your own film. What is the world coming to?

Note: watch The Eye. Please. You'll be glad you did, especially once they lame it all up in the remake.

Comclusion: The Messengers was an okay film. I'm glad I saw it, and I don't feel like I want my $6 back or anything. But I think overall it was wasted potential. I would probably recommend that y'all watch these other three films instead, though.