Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Messengers (2007)

The Messengers is a 2007 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, with the DVD released on June 5. Although the setting of the film is in North Dakota, filming actually 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. A prequel, Messengers 2: The Scarecrow, was released on June 21, 2009.


At the movie's beginning, a frightened woman is with her son, telling him that he has to be strong and that everything is going to be okay. She hears something coming towards the door and makes her son hide under the bed. The door bursts open and an unseen figure throws the woman against the wall. The son, terrified, runs out of the room and into his equally scared sister. She grabs him and runs down the stairs. The boy hides under a table, but his sister is caught and pushed over the stair railings, then she crawls to the boy and tells him to run, and soon she is dragged to the cellar as her nails scratch on the floor. The boy runs into the kitchen and hides in a cabinet, but he is soon found and gets pulled out and killed.

Five years later, a new family from Chicago moves into the house, hoping to start a sunflower farm. The main character, the teenage daughter in the family, Jess Solomon (Kristen Stewart), is upset about having to move away from her friends. Prior to the events in movie, she had driven drunk with her younger brother, Ben, a toddler at the time, in the car with her. In her intoxicated state, she got into an accident. Her little brother was injured and as a result, was hospitalized and does not speak. Also due to the accident, her father, Roy and mother, Denise, have a hard time trusting their daughter. The father, Roy Solomon, moves his family to the farm believing the move will heal his family.

Ominous events gradually build: First, the house always seems to have crows flying around it; some crows even attack Roy. Then, Jess has an encounter with one of the ghosts, the sister, in the cellar. Afterwards, she calls 9-1-1 and the authorities come, only to find a terrified Jess. The police dismiss it as a false alarm and Jess' parents do not believe her either. While Ben saw what happened, being very young and mute he cannot confirm her story. Only Bobby, a teenage boy from town whom Jess befriends, supports her.

Jess and Ben have more encounters with the ghosts haunting the house. One encounter in particular, an attack that occurs within one of the family's sheds out behind the old home, results in Jess acquiring some cuts and bruises. While in the shed, Jess sees a little boy, arms around his legs, his back toward Jess. When she tries to ask him if he's okay, he doesn't reply. She then comes closer to the boy. The boy turns around and reveals his face, his eyes white and his skin pale. Later, Jess is rushed to the hospital. Her parents think that her wounds are self-inflicted because she wants to leave the house—her life there being so different from her old one—and they will not believe that ghosts are haunting it. Because her parents don't believe her, tensions rise and Jess becomes determined to fix things.

Jess later finds out more details about the previous owners of the house, the Rollins family. According to the locals, the Rollins had lived in the house, but left suddenly. However, at a local store Jess sees a picture of the family, with a man whom Roy Solomon had hired as a farm hand and who had introduced himself as John Burwell, in it. As it turns out, John Burwell is actually John Rollins, the head of the Rollins family and the man who, in a fit of madness, killed his family and the past owners of the house. Frightened and anxious, Jess takes Bobby back to the house to warn her family before it is too late.

Back at home, Jess's mother, Denise, is putting Ben to sleep when she notices the blood spot on the wall coming back even though she has already cleaned it. This is the spot where the mother, Mary Rollins, was thrown against the wall. Suddenly Denise sees the spirit of the mother coming out of the blood stain on the wall. Terrified and determined to leave, Denise packs suitcases and places them on the front porch. John, after being attacked by crows, is confused and believes Denise is his wife Mary, trying to leave him in the same way Mary had, years before. He runs to the house to attack Denise, believing that she is his wife. Denise grabs Ben and runs into the cellar to hide from their attacker.

Bobby and Jess arrive and Jess calls for her mom and dad. John attacks them from behind with a pitchfork, knocking Bobby out in the process. Jess runs into the cellar and bolts the door. While John is looking for some way to get into the cellar, Jess finds Denise and Ben and together further barricade the door, block all the windows and breaks the light bulbs so they can stay hidden in darkness. John is able to get into the cellar and looks around for the three, still believing they are his family. Roy arrives to help Jess and Denise but she got wounded after fighting John. However, John's ghostly family arise from the their graves beneath the cellar and grab their patriarch. As his family vengefully pull him to join them underground, John grabs Jess's leg to save himself from sinking below. Jess' parents work together to save their daughter by pulling her free from John's grip before he sinks beneath the cellar with his family.

Thanks to Bobby, the police and paramedics arrive shortly after the attack ends. Roy is loaded into the ambulance so his wounds can be tended too and both he and Denise apologize to Jess for not believing her and promise to never doubt her again. As the film ends, things return to normal. The crows no longer attack, the ghosts stop appearing and Ben starts talking again. The family appears to be normal once more and the house and land look better than ever.

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