The Messengers (2007): And then there was the time when the Pang Brothers Danny and Oxide went to Saskatchewan to shoot a movie for a US company that’s supposed to be taking place in North Dakota, while none of the actors even attempted to pretend to be Midwesterners (in a way even a German notices). It has a perfectly decent cast including Penelope Ann Miller, Dylan McDermott and Kristen Stewart in a non-horrible performance, looks – it’s a Pang Brothers joint after all – really nice, and culminates in a finale as crappy as only the Pangs do them. In between there’s a run-through of variants of many a classic horror scene (done ever so slightly to very much worse, of course) and little that’ll catch one’s interest.
It’s all perfectly inoffensive, but when has that ever been a good thing to
be said about a horror film?
The Messengers 2 (2009): Of course, this direct-to-DVD
sequel-in-name-only by Martin Barnewitz manages to be even less interesting than
the Pang Brothers film that came before. It’s got little of the slickness of its
predecessor and clearly not much of an idea what to put in place of that
slickness. Despite decent actors like Norman Reedus and Heather Stephens,
there’s little to see on the acting front either, for the script can’t do
ambiguous characters or just internal complexity at all, but then, this is the
sort of movie that thinks not going to church and “taking His name in vain”
(seriously) is something that can only be the first step on the path to adultery
and cursed-scarecrow incited murder.
The Caller (2011): So props to this US-Puerto Rican
production directed by Matthew Parkhill for at least leaving the baby Jesus
home. But I’m being unfair, for this is actually a rather decent thriller of the
timey-wimey sub-genre, with a good lead performance by Rachelle Lefevre, a
well-cast handful of other actors (well, and Stephen Moyer whose attraction this
heterosexual guy can’t fathom, but we can’t have everything), and even a script
that doesn’t go for any kind of idiotic twist in the end but works fairly and
consequential from its premise. While I’m not particularly excited about the
film – it is good but never quite as riveting as it perhaps could be – this is
the sort of random Netflix find that makes one look at one’s queue with a degree
of hope, and certainly a film it’s easy enough to appreciate.