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The Messengers


Argh! Is it even possible to write an original horror movie in today's marketplace of borrowing, stealing and straight-up remaking all the best scripts of the past?

In The Messengers, the Solomon family (Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, Kristen Stewart) moves to rural North Dakota to run a sunflower farm after something bad—viewers don't find out what until well into the film—happens to them in Chicago. Sadly, the something bad turns out to be completely unrelated to the reason the family moved many states away and into a haunted house. All seems well enough until the house starts to shake and the spirits of the former occupants drag the daughter into the basement. Ghosts can really be such jerks sometimes.

If you can get past the poor acting (mostly from Miller, who seems a far cry from anyone's mother) and the ghastly hokey introduction that I swore was going to pull back and end up being something one of the Solomon kids was watching on late-night TV, then you are left with something of a patchwork of cult horror archetypes. There's the creepy basement, the mysterious stranger, the kid with glassy eyes, the attacking birds and a house with enough dark corners to make you wonder just how much electricity they even have in the Dakotas.

It's middle-of-the-road, even by today's horror-movie-a-week standards. It may scare you, but you won't reach the end credits feeling inspired.