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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Messengers (review)

Look, just don’t leave the city, okay? The countryside is dangerous. It’s full of creepy old haunted houses that invariably get sold to escaping urbanites, and too many crows that are invariably harbingers of evil, and too-helpful locals who invariably turn out to be the evil that is harbingered. Funhouse spooks (you know, stuff knocking around in the walls, crap jumping out and yelling BOO!) and little scary dead kids — a trope imported from Asian-horror, as are the brother directing team of Danny and Oxide Pang (Bangkok Dangerous) — add up to less than chilling “thrills” in this Amityville Horror knockoff, in which Dylan McDermott (Runaway Jury) and his family leave the comfortable and not-haunted confines of Chicago for the rural hell of North Dakota. The messengers? Supposedly it’s little kids, like McDermott’s toddler, who sees dead people though doesn’t really do much to try to alert Mom and Dad to the angry corpses in the basement. Let me messenger this to you: The only thing deadly about this flick is how dull it is, at least until the ludicrous ending, which is hilarious. Boo? Bah.

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MPAA: rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, disturbing violence and terror

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb

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