The Messengers (2007) (Pang Brothers)

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The Messengers (2007) (Pang Brothers)

Postby justindeimen » Sat Mar 17, 2007 3:26 am

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Timing is everything. Especially when it just seems a flawed idea to consider bringing on the much-imitated resuscitators of the Asian horror genre this late to American shores, and particularly onto the big budgeted (and quite ruthless) Hollywood dais where expectations are high. "The Messengers" giddily welcomes the Danny and Oxide Pang to transpose their talents and distinctive visual style to the classic poltergeisty Americana setting. Their inclusion almost seems a dubious summon to the directors cult following of American Asian horror fans, given the hype surrounding the Pang Brothers first cross-continental foray.

But then what does this mean to those that have not heard of these revered auteurs? Seeing as their techniques as it were has already been cribbed by Hollywood horror remakes that have already placed their mark on the box office and American audiences by imposing typically Asian scare devices on them. It would be immensely unfair (but tempting) to the Pang Brothers to call them a spent force. But unfortunately it is made easy when much of the direction and visual flair that has served them well on their native soil does seem awfully antiquated on a Hollywood canvas that has already been inundated with remakes of various Asian frighteners, each replete with the similar horror tropes such as an increased tempo of loud noises, blurry figures in white and freaked out animals. This simply is a step back for them, given the spectacle of their last film, the genre transcending Re-cycle which demonstrated a brave change of pace, yet coolly retained their signature flourishes.

Indeed, the movie ultimately smacks of a great deal of technical and aesthetic expertise being stretched upon a threadbare story that centres about a domestic situation that is inconceivably measured and presented. A family of four (father, mother, teenage daughter and toddler) moves from Chicago to Anywhere, North Dakota to start a new life. The brief flirtation with heavy subject matters such as unemployment and city-living looks too hot to handle for the filmmakers as it gets erroneously gets benched for an uninteresting subplot of teenage angst. But puberty gets shoved out of the way when teen daughter Jess (Kristen Stewart) finds that not all is right with their new farmhouse.

Now, this is where the Pang Brothers show their slick sleight of hand and mastery of tone that seemingly defies the scripts meandering and lumbering pacing. The atmospheric tension of innocent pastoral romps does evince certain menace given their confident grasp of enveloping terror. But then the direction is betrayed once again by the script when its usually followed up by dialogue that appears almost disdainful of the Hitchcockian suspense being expertly wrought, so much so that the film either feels incredibly dumb down or has no where to go in particular. Unsurprisingly, it just ends up driving a long arduous nail into the uninspired, hokey coffin when the obligatorily senseless plot twists come thick and fast.

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