The Messengers (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Pang Brothers|
|Music by||Joseph LoDuca|
|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, 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, and the DVD was released on June 5. 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 a suitcase. She hears something outside the door and makes her son hide under the bed. The door bursts open and an unseen force throws the mother against the wall, killing her. The son flees and runs into his terrified sister. The boy hides, but his sister is caught and pushed over a banister, then dragged to the cellar. The hiding boy is eventually found by the attacker.
Five years later, the Solomon family from Chicago moves into the house, near a small town in North Dakota. Roy Solomon is planning to start a sunflower farm. The teenage daughter, Jess, is upset about moving away from her friends. Some time ago, Jess had driven drunk with her younger brother, Ben, a toddler at the time. She crashed the car, seriously injuring Ben. He recovered from his injuries, but does not speak. Her parents, Roy and Denise, have a hard time trusting her and they are broke because of the expenses for Ben's treatment. Roy believes moving to the farm will help heal the family.
Ominous events begin to occur. The house always has crows flying around it. Some attack Roy; but they're driven off by a drifter named John Burwell, whom Roy hires as a farmhand. Ben sees ghosts of the mother and the children, though they do not seem to frighten him. Jess is also aware of their presence but does not see them until they try to drag her to the cellar. She calls the police, but they find nothing, further raising tensions between Jess and her parents. Ben witnessed the attack but, still a mute toddler, is unable to confirm her story. Only Bobby, a boy from town whom Jess befriends, supports her.
Jess and Ben have more encounters with the ghosts. Jess becomes determined to prove her claims, and goes into town with Bobby to learn more. She discovers that the Rollins family, the house's previous owners, left suddenly five years ago. Jess believes that they didn't move, and that something terrible happened to them. While at a local store, Jess sees a newspaper clipping of the family, with the father revealed to be none other than her dad's new farmhand. John Burwell is actually John Rollins, the man who, in a fit of madness, murdered his entire family (the beginning of the film). Shocked, Jess rushes back to the house with Bobby to warn her family.
At the house, Denise sees the mother's ghost coming out of the wall with the blood stain, which she tried many times to wipe off. Realizing Jess had been right, she becomes determined to leave. John is viciously attacked by the crows, and his mental state becomes unbalanced. He believes Denise is his wife Mary, trying to leave him again as the actual Mary had 5 years before. He attacks Denise, but she grabs Ben and hides in the cellar. Bobby and Jess arrive, but John knocks Bobby out with a pitchfork. Jess runs into the cellar and finds Denise and Ben. Denise apologizes to Jess for not believing her about the ghosts. John looks for them, believing that Jess is his daughter Lindsay, and Ben is his son Michael. Roy arrives but is stabbed by John. When John asks Jess, thinking that she's Lindsay, if they are still a family, the ghosts of John's slain family arise from bubbling mud. John attempts to finish Jess off with a pitchfork, Jess dodges the attack as she responds that her family isn't his before kicking John into the mud, his victims attack John and vengefully pull him down for murdering his family. John's hand rises from the mud and grabs Jess's foot, trying to pull her with him. A wounded Roy is strong enough to stand up and pull Jess out of her shoe, leaving John to be sucked down in the mud.
Thanks to Bobby, Officer Drew and paramedics arrive shortly after the attack. As Roy is loaded into the ambulance, he apologizes to Jess. Some time later, everything has returned to normal. The crows are no longer attack, the ghosts stop appearing, and Ben starts talking again. The family is happy once more.
- 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.
The Messengers placed first in box office receipts for the weekend of February 2–4, 2007. In its first weekend of release, the film grossed $14.7 million, most of the production budget. The film grossed $55 million overall.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 12% based on 84 reviews with 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.