"The Messengers" arrives a couple of years too late to capitalize on the Asian-influenced ghost story craze that included "The Ring" and "The Grudge," but at least it's a notch above the horror offerings of the last few months. Not that being slightly more watchable than "The Hitcher" or "Black Christmas" is much of an accomplishment
Chinese brothers-directors Oxide and Danny Pang ("The Eye") make their English-language debut with "The Messengers," which may not be a remake, but definitely isn't original either. The film tells the tale of a family who relocate from Chicago to a North Dakota farm only to discover their new abode is, of course, haunted.
Mom (Penelope Ann Miller, "Kindergarten Cop") and Dad (Dylan McDermott, TV's "The Practice") are initially oblivious. But their children, sullen teen Jessica (Kristen Stewart, "Panic Room") and mysteriously silent toddler Ben (newcomers Evan and Theodore Turner), quickly pick up on the eerie noises and unwanted visitors who appear one minute and vanish the next. Instead of listening to their kids, or investigating the history of their new property, the adults do stupid things like hire a stranger (John Corbett, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"), who shows up wielding a gun, to help out with the farming.
Predictable plotting aside, the ghosts are creepy, the Pang brothers' visuals are strong and Stewart delivers as an engagingly rebellious heroine.
Horror fans have seen it all before but they've also seen it done worse.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times